US-India military trade: Partnership between the two nations on an upward trend

US-India military

The aggregate worth of India’s defense acquisition from the US Defense companies which have crossed over $ 18 billion are now expected to cross $25 billion over the next few years.

The defense relationship has emerged as a major pillar of India-US strategic partnership. There has been intensification in defense trade, joint exercises, personnel exchanges, collaboration and cooperation in maritime security and counter-piracy, and exchanges between each of the three services for over a decade. The two countries now conduct more bilateral exercises with each other than they do with any other country, including naval, air and land.

Both India and the US inked in 2005 the new framework for the India-US Defense Relationship, which sets priorities for defense cooperation in maritime security, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief, and counterterrorism.

The Civil Nuclear Cooperation Initiative was completed in 2007 which is a ten-year defense framework that lifts a three-decade US moratorium on nuclear trade with India. And makes India the only country outside of the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) with nuclear capabilities and allowed to participate in nuclear commerce.

Shortly thereafter renowned US scientist, Dr Vivek Lall, took over as Boeing’s top official in charge of US-India Defense trade. Recognized by many world leaders including several US Presidents and heads of state from Europe and Japan for his acumen as a renowned scientist and his ability to bridge nations with technology and trade, Lall is the man behind growing military trade been the governments of the US and India.

During his 14 year career in the Boeing Company, he had led a team to work on the path-breaking military deals including the P8I Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft for the Indian Navy, C17 (military transport aircraft), anti-ship Harpoon missiles, Apache and Chinook helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and oversaw multiple campaigns as well as pan India strategic industrial tie-ups.

When he was appointed Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin (LM) Aeronautics in January 2018, the same year witnessed his appointment by the US Government in a key advisory role in a Federal Advisory Committee. This is a two-year term to the US Cabinet Secretary heading Department of Transportation in Washington DC which affects the American and global aviation policies and technologies.

Since he joined LM there has been significant momentum in addressing the urgent need of 24 MH60R anti-submarine helicopters for the Indian Navy with the recent receipt of a Letter of Agreement in response to India’s request.

Also, he had the distinction of introducing an India unique platform the F21 for the fighter requirements in India to the world during Aero India 2019, which has a large Israeli content on board. The company is the only one in the world to have operational fifth-generation aircraft like the F22 and F35.

Prior to his appointment at LM he was Chief Executive in charge of the US and International Strategic Development at General Atomics (makers of the Predator UAV’s) and was behind the path-breaking agreement by the White House to release armed category 1 UAV’s to India, a non-NATO country.

As has been reported by the Financial Express Online earlier, India is in advanced discussions with the US for 30 drones for all its services.

The US government has offered India the THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) which has been designed to intercept ballistic missiles at high altitude and is a competitor for the Russian S-400.

The PAC-3 (Patriot Advanced Capability) an upgrade of the Patriot air defense missile system has been offered to India.

Bilateral dialogue mechanisms in the field of defense now include several such as the Defence Policy Group, Defence Joint Working Group, Defense Procurement and Production Group, Senior Technology Security Group, and Joint Technical Group, Military Cooperation Group.

Both India and the US governments have already signed four agreements including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Association (LEMOA) in August 2016; Fuel Exchange Agreement in November 2015; Technical Agreement (TA) on information sharing on White (merchant) Shipping in May 2016 and the Information Exchange Annex (IEA) on Aircraft Carrier Technologies in June 2016; and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, India specific version of the Communication and Information on Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) last year.

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