New Delhi: The US has said it is committed to building a defence relationship with India based co-development and innovation after the two countries signed a Statement of Intent to strengthen dialogue on defence technology cooperation.
"US committed to building a defence relationship with India grounded in co-development & innovation. DoD U/S Lord's recent Delhi visit made significant contributions to furthering Defense Trade & Technology Initiative, including projects like Lightweight Small Arms Technologies," a Twitter post by the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs said on Sunday.
The statement of intent or SOI was signed between India and the US during the ninth meeting of Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) group, on 24 October. It was co-chaired by Subhash Chandra, Secretary, Defence Production, in India’s defence ministry and Ellen M Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, from the US Department of Defence. The SOI aims to strengthen dialogue on defence technology cooperation in specific programmes like including Lightweight Small Arms Technologies (LSAT).
DTTI group meetings are held twice a year with the aim of strengthening the bilateral defence trade relationship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defence equipment.
India was named a major defence partner of the US in 2016, a designation that allows India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from the US at par with that of Washington’s closest allies and partners. It also ensures a deepening of cooperation in the fields of co-production.
India signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) last year which now allows the US to share highly coded communication equipment with the military platforms sold to India.
In August last year, the US granted India Strategic Trade Authority Tier 1 status -- allowing U.S. companies to export a greater range of dual-use and high-technology items to India under streamlined processes. This has put India on par with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies of the US – like Japan, South Korea and Australia.
Taken together, the developments show warming ties between India and the US, countries that were once known as “estranged democracies" for being on opposite sides during the Cold War years. India was then seen as close to the erstwhile Soviet Union while the US was seen as an ally of Pakistan.
According to US Department of Defence Under Secretary Lord, “bilateral defence trade, essentially zero in 2008, will reach an estimated $18 billion later this year."