January 23, 2015

Parleys on to push defence deal


India clearly not satisfied with the US allowing just two military-use items under the much-touted Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) is pushing for more as last-minute negotiations are on ahead of US President Barack Obama’s three-day (from January 25 to 27) visit to India. The points-person of both sides, G Mohan Kumar, Secretary Department of Defence Production, and US nominee Frank Kendall, Under-secretary (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics) of Defence Department, met in New Delhi today. “A few issues have been discussed and negotiations are on for collaboration and co-development of military equipment is being discussed,” said a source while adding that in international diplomacy it’s a two-way street. 
The US is looking for a graduated baby-step approach to commence the DTTI while India is looking at a licenced-production-style of approach like it does with Russia, its Cold war (1945-1991) military ally. Tanks such as the T-90 and the Sukhoi-30-MKI — both Russian products — are produced in India while a nuclear powered submarine has been leased for ten years to India, to name a few. The Pentagon (Ministry of Defence) has selected just two pieces of equipment out of the original list of 17 that can be made with India. It’s for joint production of hand-held Unmanned Ariel Vehicles (UAVs) as well as specialised surveillance and intelligence gathering equipment for the C-130-J transport planes.
 The Indian Air Force has five of these planes in its fleet. The UAV project is said to be the RQ-11 “Raven”, world’s most widely used UAV for tactical surveillance. The US government has rigid controls for larger UAVs to other countries, but for the ‘Raven’ the controls are not that strict. The intelligence gathering equipment includes modules that allow C-130s to be quickly refitted for surveillance and as VIP transporters or hospitals. Since the DTTI was launched in 2012, the US proposed 17 projects for collaboration. India has had reservations as the projects did not have scope for transfer of technology, like it enjoys with the Russians. 


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