The strategic defence partnership between India and the US is like a match made in heaven, the first is the world’s biggest arms producer and the latter is among the biggest arms importers.
The U.S. is paying a closer attention to India and trying to find bigger foothold in the country a year after losing a huge 12-billion-dollar-contract from India of 126 fighter aircraft.
According to the Washington Post, many of the problems date back to the fallout of the U.S sanctions imposed on India in the wake of its nuclear tests, a move that froze technology sharing.
“We want to knock down any remaining bureaucratic barriers in our defence relationship and strip away the impediments,” Ashton Carter, the U.S. deputy defence secretary, said during a visit to India in July.
According to the report, Carter was asked recently to take on the task of easing defence trade and technology transfer to India, and he said the U.S. Government has begun to rework stringent export controls that hinder sharing of high-end technology.
“We trust India and know India is not a re-exporter or exploiter of our technologies,” Carter said, adding: “We want to move beyond defence trade and towards cooperative research and development and co-production with India.”
According to the report, with a suspicious eye on China’s military buildup, India is in the midst of an ambitious defence acquisition program, which is worth about 100 billion dollars over more than a decade. India is also seeking to replace its aging Soviet-era arsenal and buy new fighter aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, infantry combat vehicles, helicopters, assault rifles, underwater submarines and tanks, the report said.
As India’s own defence production industry is relatively small, much of the equipment has to be imported, and the US is now trying to embrace on the idea.
“India is an expanding market for us, and by building our industrial footprint here, we are saying: ‘We are not here to sell and walk away. We have got our skin in the game. We are here to stay,’” Abhay Paranjape, national executive for India at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, said in an interview.
According to the report, India has signed key agreements that would enable the closer defence cooperation that the U.S. Government has been asking for, including promises to provide logistical support to the American military and increase defense communication interoperability.