Special cell in Pentagon to boost India-US defence trade ties


Even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi readies for his forthcoming September 24 visit to the US, the Pentagon has announced that the recently set up India special cell will boost and speed up defence trade ties between India and US.

The India Rapid Reaction Cell (IRRC) has been set up by the Pentagon to speed up its defence ties with India and accelerate the process of co-development and co-production of hi-tech military equipment in the country. India is the only country to have a specific cell of its kind inside the Pentagon.

IRRC head Keith Webster said: “The purpose of the India Rapid Reaction Cell is to work all the initiatives that we have ongoing under India-US Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) — both the initiatives that for example came out of the joint statement between the US President and the Indian Prime Minister in January in New Delhi to move quickly and timely and be thorough, which in my opinion requires dedicated support to ramp up the operational tempo.”

IRRC’s aim is to focus on advancing DTTI and transform bilateral defence relationship without any bureaucratic hurdles. It will also look at moving away from the traditional buyer-seller dynamic to a more collaborative approach by exploring new areas of technological collaboration and expanding business ties between the two nations.

In a recent letter to the US industry, the Under Secretary of Defence Frank Kendal wrote, “I encourage industry partners to continue identifying opportunities that offer exclusive co-development and/or co-production in India, meet expressed Indian interest, including ‘Make in India’ and have potential for global market sales.”

The joint statement between India and the US during President Obama’s January 2015 visit to India, announced four products for co-production – next-generation Raven unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); ‘roll-on, roll-off’ intelligence-gathering and reconnaissance modules for C-130J Super Hercules aircraft; mobile electric hybrid power sources; and uniform integrated protection ensemble increment-2 (chemical, biological warfare protection gear for soldiers).

Over the last decade India and the US have inked defence deals worth a significant USD 10 billion. With India facing security issues with its neighbours Pakistan and China, the growing relationship with the US further strengthens India’s position in the region.

The DTTI is expected to take the defence relations between the two countries to the next-level over the next few years. Defence and strategic relations between the two countries is expected to dominate the talks between Mr Modi and President Barack Obama when they meet on the sidelines of the UNGA in New York.



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