2+2 Meet

Indian military to get access to US satellite data, agreement today

BECA to allow geo-spatial mapping for precision strikes

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 26

The Indian military is set to get access to the satellite network of the United States, allowing it to target enemy positions with more precision. The key pact will be signed tomorrow to share real-time geo-spatial intelligence, information on maps and satellite images for defence.

Called the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), it will allow geo-spatial mapping of the land mass. The imagery generated from it can be used to accurately operate drones and long-range missiles. The contours of the land mass have to be known accurately to achieve precision strike from huge distances.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh met with his US counterpart Mark T Esper in New Delhi on Monday for talks. An Indian statement after the meeting said: “The two ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA will be signed during the visit.” Esper is in India along with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for the 2+2 ministerial dialogue slated for Tuesday. The BECA will be signed at that meeting.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had a “productive” dinner engagement with Pompeo during which they discussed maritime security, counter-terrorism, open connectivity and resilient supply chains.

The BECA, meanwhile, would be the last of the three ‘foundational agreements’ defining the bilateral ties. The first pact — Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Association — was signed in August 2016, permitting the respective militaries to replenish material and fuel from each other’s bases.

The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement inked in 2018 facilitates access to advanced defence systems and enables India to optimally utilise its existing US-origin platforms. In December last, India and the US escalated their strategic ties by inking the Industrial Security Annex.

In June 2016, the US recognised India as a “major defence partner”. Rajnath and Esper reviewed bilateral defence cooperation spanning military-to-military cooperation, secure communication systems and information sharing and industrial issues.

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