India-US defence ties: Making co-development mantra work

The India-US relations have gained visible momentum, especially in the arena of defence trade and cooperation. Through joint ventures (JVs) and defence co-production, India and the US have an opportunity to take their strategic partnership to new heights, a crucial area which will be in focus during the visit of US President Barack Obama to India, the first American president to be invited as the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. The JVs of Indian and American companies and the co-production of military hardware will prove mutually beneficial and add strategic heft to bilateral relations, with a careful considerations on factors like maturity of markets and technology absorption capabilities.
Co-production is going to act as an enabling lever to energise the US’ strategic partnership with India. As India takes steady steps to spur economic recovery through second generation economic reforms, American defence contractors understand the present favourable business climate in India. There are examples of Indian and US defence companies in joint ventures like those of Defence Public Sector Undertaking, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), to focus on the design, development, marketing, supply and support of civilian and select defence radars for India and the global markets. The other examples include Lockheed Martin and TATA to build C-130 components, and Sikorsky and TATA to build cabins for S-92 helicopters. India and the US share common political values and a strategic vision and are destined to be long-term partners. The defence ties would be one aspect of cooperation which would assume growing importance as both the countries join hands to combat terrorism, cooperate in counter-terrorism efforts, and in addressing a host of non-traditional security challenges, maritime security and intelligence sharing. Needless to say, the co-development and co-production of military equipment would only serve to buttress an increasingly strong defence and strategic partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies.

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