Of Economy and Collaboration

The US ambassador to India would like India to move towards effective and agile weapon systems

Palak Gupta | Lucknow

In a rare instance of a diplomat speaking on another nation’s economic matters, the US ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, expressed his concern regarding the Indian economy.

Center, Kenneth Juster, US Ambassador, left, Adm. Eileen Launcher, Defense Attaché, and right, Capt. Daniel Million, Chief office of Defense Cooperation at press briefing in Lucknow on Tuesday Picture by Prem Singh

“One of my concerns about an economic slowdown is that it affects all aspects of a country, including its ability to modernise its defence capabilities,” said Juster in a media briefing in Lucknow ahead of DefExpo 2020. The international arms exhibition features top companies from the US defence-industrial complex including Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

American firms participating in the event have been partnering with companies across India, including in Uttar Pradesh’s Defence Corridor, to produce defence equipment. Tata has partnered with Lockheed Martin to build all C-130 tails and F-16 wings while Boeing is collaborating with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to produce all AH-64 Apache fuselages in Hyderabad.

Boeing will showcase a range of advanced defence capabilities at the event including F/A-18 Super Hornet, KC-46 tanker, AH-64E Apache and the P-8I.

Juster stated unequivocally the need to identify and overcome barriers that come up on the pathway to a deeper industry-to-industry relationship between the two countries.

In response to a question on if the Indian defence budget, with just USD15 billion allocated for Capex, was obstructing US defence sales, Juster did not shy away from blaming it on “the economic slowdown.”

The envoy also remarked that it is critical that India move toward systems – not just weapons – that are “effective, agile, and resilient” so that India can ensure its defence and work “with like-minded nations in pursuit of common security objectives.”

“We believe that India must ultimately move toward systems that are interoperable with the equipment and networks of its security partners,” he added. Juster shared that India and the US are working on several defence deals but he refused to throw light on them saying that he will not announce the details until the deals are finalised.

Talking about modern battlefield, Juster said that defence exhibition like these demonstrate “that industry in the US and India, along with our respective governments, share a common understanding regarding the nature of the modern battlefield.”

Juster reiterated that the DefExpo is a great opportunity to witness talent and innovation of India’s defence industry. The US, he said, was looking forward to strengthen the defence partnership and cooperation between the two countries as was evident from the Indian government’s efforts of setting up of defence industrial corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Juster also met with the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath later in the day.


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