September 19, 2013

US promises to supply high-end military tech, demolish all barriers

The US now wants to do a Russia on India. Eager to displace Russia as India's largest defence supplier, the US is promising to treat India on par with its closest allies like the UK and Australia in terms of providing cutting-edge military technology.

Ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's trip to Washington and New York next week, visiting US deputy secretary of defence Ashton B Carter held a series of meetings with national security advisor (NSA) Shiv Shankar Menon, foreign secretary Sujatha Singh and defence secretary R K Mathur to push for several co-production and co-development military projects as a cornerstone to the bilateral strategic partnership.

From offering joint manufacturing facilities for the next-generation of Javelin anti-tank guided missiles to C-130J "Super Hercules" aircraft, Carter said the US was looking to partner with India across "the entire spectrum" of defence capabilities with "no boundaries" being set.

"This is the new way for India and US. We do not have the history that Russia does. We are trying to replicate it," he said, referring to Indo-Russian joint ventures like the one manufacturing BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

The hard-sell comes in the backdrop of India poised to spend well over $100 billion on acquiring arms over the next decade. Having already inked Indian defence contracts worth over $8 billion in recent years, the US is now also set to bag another four deals worth almost $5 billion in the current fiscal.

But none of the four deals for six more C-130J aircraft, 22 Apache attack helicopters, 15 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters and 145 M-777 ultra-light howitzers will actually be inked when the PM meets President Barack Obama on September 27.

The Indian defence establishment is yet to fully shed its lingering suspicions about the US being a reliable long-term, high-end defence supplier, given its propensity to impose sanctions and stringent export control laws.

But Carter said all such "misconceptions" were history now. The US is "working around" foundational military pacts like CISMOA (communication interoperability and security memorandum agreement), which India is reluctant to ink, and demolishing all bureaucratic hurdles through the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative. While Carter heads it for the US, Menon is his interlocutor from India. "People have to be creative on both sides to do what has not been done before," he said.

Times of india

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