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Force Magazine

Growing Partnership
The Indo-US defence partnership is now expected to move from purchase to joint development

By Atul Chandra

It has been a busy last few months for Indo-US defence relations, with a raft of senior US officials visiting India for their first formal interactions with the new government. Secretary of defence Chuck Hagel, who visited New Delhi last month, held meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, national security adviser Ajit Doval and external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. Secretary of State John Kerry also visited the capital last month, and these visits have prepared the ground for the first formal visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US. The high level visits will surely impact positively on Indo-US defence ties.

Defence relations between the two countries have rapidly expanded (though not at the pace desired by the US), over the last decade, with American defence manufacturers having made rapid inroads into India’s defence market. In just over half a decade, since 2008, contracts worth almost USD 10 billion have been signed. Commenting on US-India Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) created a couple of years ago, Hagel said, “This initiative was not designed to replace either of our nations’ basic procedures for buying, selling, developing, or producing defence systems. Nor was it designed to change the basic principles that govern our two nations’ complex defence industrial ecosystems. Instead, it reflects our shared strategic imperative: the imperative of closer partnership.”

More than a dozen specific cooperative proposals are now on the table which involve transfer of technology (ToT) and production know-how. This includes an unprecedented offer to ‘not only co-produce, but also co-develop the next generation of the Javelin anti-tank missile.’ India plans to acquire approximately 2,000 launchers and 38,000 missiles in what is surely the largest such requirement, anywhere in the world. The US offer means that India will have an opportunity to produce the third generation Javelin under license in India and be part of joint development for a future advanced version. While India has successfully developed ballistic and surface-to-air missiles, the anti-tank guided missile ‘Nag’ programme has yet to deliver a production example to the army. Israel’s Spike ATGM had emerged as the frontrunner after protracted trials.

Indo-US defence partnership
Air Cmde Anil Sabharwal giving US Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter a tour of a new runway under construction at Hindon Air Force Station last year

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