Video Summary

[RSTV The Big Picture] India and USA: Deepening Defence Ties

Defence relationship has emerged as a major pillar of India US strategic partnership.
By IT's Video Summary Team
February 28, 2020


  • Introduction
  • Deals struck before US President visit to India
  • India- US contours ofstrategic partnership
  • Relationship in last 10 years
  • IT’s INPUT
  • India – US Matrix
  • India’s move in Transfer of Technology (TOT)
  • India’s relationship with other countries
  • Way ahead

India and USA: Deepening Defence Ties

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The Defence cooperation has grown significantly with India procuring over 18 billion USD worth of defence items from USA in the past decade.

Deals struck before US President visit to India

  • Cabinet committee on Security has approved procurement of 24 MH 60 Romeo Naval Multirole Helicopters and 6 AH-64E Apache attack Helicopters.
  • Last week the US administration had also approved the sale of Integrated Air Defence Weapon System to India at an approximate cost of 1.9 billion US dollars.
  • Both countries have also signed agreements for enhanced cooperation in defence sector and mutual logistics support.

India- US contours of strategic partnership

  • The trust between the two countries has significantly risen in the last 15 years. After the end of the bipolar world, India’s rise has been noticed by the USA and they themselves have reached up to India improving relationship and trust between the two countries.

Relationship in last 10 years

  • Between 1999 – 2010, there used to be a total mismatch between US military sales and Indian defence procurement procedure.
  • India had to go through the procedure involving request of information, sending out the request for proposals, RFPs, doing out the trials and carrying out the contract negotiations. At the same time, US wanted a government to government deal.
  • Between 2013-2018, Defence Trade of India with US grew by 557%. C130 Hercules, C17 Globemaster, 2 Apache, 2 MH 60 R, MH 17771 Ultra-light howitzer etc.

IT’s Input

Four foundational agreements of US

The four foundational defence agreements are used by the US to facilitate defence cooperation with foreign military partners:

  1. General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA –signed in 2002, allows sharing of classified information from US Government)
  2. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA – signed in 2016, gives access, to both countries, to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment.)
  3. Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA – yet to be signed, facilitates exchange of geospatial information).
  4. Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA – signed in 2018 – allows India to procure specialised equipment for encrypted communications for US origin military platform)

Other Defence initiatives between India and USA

  • CENTRIXS (Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System) kits facilitate encrypted communications between the navies of US and India.
  • India has also created a common account of $5 million to pay for services or information sought from the U.S. under the COMCASA.
  • In addition, a tactical data link, Sealink Advanced Analysis (S2A), is to be set up to analyse large volumes of data that are received as part of Maritime Domain Awareness.

India – US Matrix

US has two interests:

  • Geo-politics and the growing assertiveness of China (economical and militarily)
  • Economic relationship –India and US trade deals to reach to 80 bn USD from zero which is driving this relationship.

India has some challenges:

  • India has to address the challenge of interoperability – most of the latest technologies cannot be integrated in Indian aircrafts and so it requires high end advanced aircrafts.

India’s move in Transfer of Technology (TOT)

  • Certainly, India has moved ahead in TOT engagement as well.
  • The underlying aim of defence partnership with US is that India has fair amount of platforms to integrate such as P 8 aircraft and helicopters.
  • With proper integrated approach of India’s navy, air force and army due to Chief of Defence Staff (recently formed), it will be far easier now for India to have integrated use of these platforms.
  • India would be able to start off with maintenance, repair and manufacture of its defence inventory and aircrafts.
  • India is having defence inventory from different countries and the problems with the mixed inventory is huge spare parts and the maintenance which has become extremely costlier issue.
  • Here, the TOT and Make in India becomes important. The Make in India will standardized the defence integration as the government can standardized Make in India platform and build its defence procurement, integration based upon it.
  • The companies who will invest in India will have advantage like cheap labour, huge market etc.

India’s relationship with other countries

  • India has to tread the fine line.
  • India is a part of QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue) but it has always reiterated that it is not against China. India’s relationship with China has been improving gradually.
  • Russia has been India’ consistent close partner. In 1980s and later during nuclear tests, Soviet Union had stood with India.
  • We cannot totally ally with the west but if the west is willing to invest in India and putting production unit, India can be confident that there will be consistent supply of defence units and spares.

Way ahead

  • India needs to ensure that the defence inventory remains operable.
  • India’s indigenous military capability needs to grow at the same time.
  • We have to wait and watch as how this relationship prosperous in times to come.

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