In a significant development, India and the United States have reached a mutual agreement to accelerate their collaboration in the defense industry. The two nations have laid out an ambitious roadmap aimed at expediting technology partnerships and facilitating the co-production of advanced equipment for air combat, intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance, and the undersea domain. This strategic move comes as a response to China’s increasingly assertive actions in the Indo-Pacific region.
Under this cooperation, the focus will be on joint production endeavors concerning aircraft engines, aircraft-launched missiles, fighter jets, armed drones, submarine-tracking systems, and unmanned undersea technology. The US Department of Defense stated that “specific proposals could provide India with access to cutting-edge technology,” revealing the outcomes of discussions between Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in New Delhi.
The two countries are presently engaged in talks regarding General Electric’s proposition to share technology with India for fighter jet engines, as well as India’s plan to procure 30 MQ-9B armed drones from US manufacturer General Atomics. Back in June 2016, the US bestowed upon India the title of “Major Defense Partner,” effectively paving the way for the sharing of critical military equipment and technology. Furthermore, negotiations will commence on a “security supply agreement” and a “reciprocal supply agreement,” facilitating the exchange of technology between companies in both nations.
During their discussions, Rajnath and Austin also explored innovation and cooperation in emerging domains such as space, cyberspace, and artificial intelligence. To further advance their collaboration in cutting-edge technology, the US-India Business Council will inaugurate the India-US Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) on June 21.
Both parties reiterated their unwavering commitment to upholding a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Rajnath emphasized, “The India-US partnership is critical for ensuring a free, open, and rules-based Indo-Pacific region.”