Joint exercises, tech transfer to transform India-US defence ties


The India-US defence ties are set to acquire more ballast, with the two countries agreeing on additional joint exercises and Washington promising the transfer of the sensitive gas turbine technology to New Delhi. Taking a broader view of their strategic partnership, the two sides have decided to intensify their cooperation in combating ISIL and al-Qaeda and its affiliates, including virulently anti-India outfits like Lashkar e-Tayibba and Jaish e-Mohammed. 

These crucial decisions were taken during talks between Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter at Pentagon in Washington DC on December 10.

The Indian Navy will participate in the Rim-of-the-Pacific (RIMPAC) multilateral naval exercise in 2016 and the Indian Air Force will participate in the multilateral Red Flag exercise in April-May 2016, said a joint statement issued after the talks.  Welcoming India’s decision, Mr Carter expressed support for greater Air-to-Air interaction in the future.

Mr Carter announced the US participation in the International Fleet Review of the Indian Navy at Visakhapatnam in February 2016. “Today, India is conducting more military exercises with the US than with any other country,” he said.

“We discussed the importance of expanding our military engagements, from the annual Malabar naval exercise this year, to India’s participation in the Rim-of-the-Pacific exercise next year. And return, for the first time in eight years to Red Flag, the premier air-to-air combat exercise,” Mr Carter said. 

DTTI on fast-track: Tech Transfer

The big takeaway from the Parrikar-Carter meeting was the US’ categorical commitment to transfer cutting-edge technology relating to turbine engines and other transformative technologies under the DTTI initiative. The discussions have underlined the key role US defence industry will play in the Make in India initiative. “They committed to identifying additional projects for possible co-development and co-production of high technology items that meet the transformational intent of DTTI,” said the joint statement. In a major step forward, the US has updated its policy on gas-turbine engine technology transfer to India to expand cooperation in production and design of sensitive jet engine components. Due to this policy, the US will be able to expand cooperation in production and design of sensitive jet engine components. 

With the ongoing churn in the Asia-Pacific region and South China Sea as a backdrop, enhancing maritime cooperation figured prominently in discussions. This was reflected in their resolve to sign a memorandum of understanding between the navies of both countries on “white shipping” information. The two ministers announced their intention to complete it soon.

Building on the larger vision of the partnership agreed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Barack Obama, the defence ministers’ meeting signals the growing strategic connect between the world’s largest democracies and their shared intent to upscale the security partnership. The reiteration of cooperation in tackling some of Pakistan-based anti-India terror outfits like LeT, JeM and the D-Company is a signal to Pakistan to deliver on its anti-terror pledge at a time when India and Pakistan have resumed their dialogue process.

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