US-India relations: Military

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.

Indo-US defence ties
i) The Indian military’s growing closeness to the USA,
Major defence deals with the USA, 2007-16
[ The Times of India]


US and India: “Major Defence Partners”

Indo-US defence ties, some facts in brief; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India

The Times of India, Dec 8, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS India and the United States vowed to expand the bilateral defence cooperation

A powerful US Congressional conference committee had on November 30 asked Carter and the secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's major defence partner

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with US Secretary of Defense Ashton B Carter in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI photo)Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar with US Secretary of Defense Ashton B Carter in New Delhi on Thursday. (PTI photo) NEW DELHI: India and the United States on Thursday vowed to expand the bilateral defence cooperation as outgoing American defence secretary Ashton Carter met his counterpart Manohar Parrikar here for the record breaking seventh time and termed New Delhi as a "major defence partner". "Thank you my friend," Carter told Parrikar as both met at the South Block here. Carter said that this is the seventh meeting that he was having meeting with Parrikar. "He is the defence minister with whom I have met for the maximum number of times," he said emphasising the importance that US puts on its ties with India. During the meeting, which was more of a thanksgiving one, Carter said, "Today our defence relationship takes a major step as we designate India as a major defence partner."

A powerful US Congressional conference committee had on November 30 asked Carter and the secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's major defence partner in a bid to strengthen bilateral security cooperation.

The provision mentioned in the voluminous Congressional conference report, running into more than 3,000 pages, on $618 billion National Defence Authorisation Bill (NDAA), also asked the defence secretary and the secretary of state for an assessment of the extent to which India possesses capabilities to support and carry out military operations of mutual interest of the two countries. It now needs to be formally passed by the two chambers of the Congress -- the House of Representatives and Senate -- before US President Barack Obama can sign it into law. Meanwhile, Parrikar said he appreciated Carter's strong commitment to defence partnership. "It is not an exaggeration that our defence relations are a major driver in our bilateral relations," he said adding Carter's conceptualisation of the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) shows his interest in bilateral defence cooperation.

Parrikar said he was happy to see conclusion of discussion on major defence partnership. "During our meeting over the last few years, we have agreed on practical exchanges such as LMEOA," the defence minister said.

He added, "I am confident that the defence cooperation will expand on the foundation you have built". Carter replied saying that both countries have more to do in the years ahead.

"I am proud of what we have achieved my friend," he said. US President-elect Donald Trump has nominated James Mattis, a retired 4-star Marine Corps general, for the post of the US defence secretary.

Arms exports to India from the USA

2020: India to buy helicopters worth $3 billion

$3bn defence deal done, sharing of advanced satellite data next, February 26, 2020: The Times of India

A closer look at the choppers in the $3 billion deal announced as part of US President Trump's visit to India in 2020
From: $3bn defence deal done, sharing of advanced satellite data next, February 26, 2020: The Times of India

Even as India and the US inked helicopter deals worth $3 billion on Tuesday, the two countries also agreed to work for early conclusion of the fourth and final bilateral foundational military pact called the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).

The BECA, which will enable the US to share advanced satellite and topographical data for long-range navigation and missile-targeting with India, will come after India inked the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 and the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) in 2018. "BECA should be inked by next year," an official said.

India and the US also inked deals for 24 MH-60 ‘Romeo’ helicopters for Rs 15,157 crore ($2.12 billion) and the six additional Apache attack choppers for Rs 5,691 crore ($796 million) on Tuesday, taking the total value of lucrative Indian defence deals bagged by Washington to over $21 billion in the last 13 years.

The first six MH-60 ‘Romeo’ multi-mission helicopters will be delivered to India in a year, with the rest 18 thereafter coming over the next four years, to plug the Navy’s critical operational gap in detecting, tracking and destroying enemy submarines. The six AH-64E Apache attack choppers, in turn, will be delivered from 2023 onwards.

“Earlier today, we expanded our defence cooperation with agreements for India to purchase more than $3 billion of advanced American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters — the finest in the world. These deals will enhance our joint defence capabilities as our militaries continue to train and operate side-by-side,” US President Donald Trump said.

With the chopper deals done, the US will aim to seal the other proposed deals in the pipeline worth around $7 billion over the next couple of years. These include six more P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft ($1.8 billion), the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II for the missile shield over Delhi ($1.8 billion), 30 Sea Guardian armed drones (over $2.5 billion) and 13 big MK-45 naval gun systems for warships ($1.02 billion).

Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)

2012-18: no concrete results

Rajat Pandit, Six-yr-old Indo-US pact fails to deliver futuristic military tech, December 30, 2018: The Times of India

The US has bagged Indian contracts for direct sales worth $17 billion just over the last decade. The contracts include a deal worth $2.1bn for 24 naval multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ helicopters
From: Rajat Pandit, Six-yr-old Indo-US pact fails to deliver futuristic military tech, December 30, 2018: The Times of India

Though Big Arms Supplier To India, America Yet To Co-Develop Weapons

The much-touted Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) finalised between India and the US six years ago to jointly develop and produce futuristic weapon systems and technologies, as part of their expanding strategic partnership, has failed to deliver any major concrete results till now.

Though the co-production of advanced military helicopters and infantry combat vehicles as well as cooperation in aircraft carrier technologies remain on the table, another big-ticket project to collaborate on fighter jet engines has nosedived. “But a relatively smaller project to co-develop Sealink Advanced Analysis (S2A) systems to track vessels and enhance maritime domain awareness is close to finalisation now,” said an official.

The US remains one of the biggest arms suppliers to India, having bagged contracts for direct sales worth $17 billion just over the last decade. Several other deals, including the $2.1 billion one for 24 naval multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ helicopters and the $1 billion acquisition of the American National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II, are also in the pipeline.

But the DTTI’s professed aim to transform the bilateral “buyer-seller” relationship into co-development and production of weapon systems has remained a pipedream, with both Indian and the United States officials privately admiting “disappointment” with the progress made under the DTTI of 2012. India was very keen on the jet engine project, having failed to develop the indigenous Kaveri engine despite spending Rs 2,839 crore on it since 1989, but it hit an insurmountable roadblock earlier this year. “The US refused to share some key technologies we wanted,” said an Indian official.

A US official, however, said, “What we offered India was far more than what we have ever offered to any other country.”

2002- 2020

The years, in brief

Rajat Pandit, How defence partnership ringfences ties between India and US, February 23, 2020: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Expansive defence cooperation has been, and will continue to be, the lodestar of wider India-US ties. Whether Bush Jr or Obama, or now Trump, bilateral defence ties have been on an upward trajectory for almost two decades now despite persisting disputes on other fronts like trade and tariffs.

Consider this: starting virtually from scratch, US has notched up Indian defence deals worth $20 billion for aircraft, helicopters and howitzers in just the last 13 years, managing to displace India’s long-standing military supplier Russia for a few years. Several more deals worth over $7 billion are in the pipeline.

These deals, though, are a small part of the ever-tightening strategic embrace between the two nations, both wary of the rise of an aggressive and expansionist China in the Indo-Pacific. From a flurry of joint exercises for greater interoperability between their armed forces to foundational military pacts, and operational intelligence-sharing to expanding security cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region, India and the US have set a scorching pace that has astounded many sceptics.

But it’s not all hunky-dory. US is upset with India for inking the $5.43-billion deal for S-400 Triumf missile systems with Russia in October 2018, and then following it up with a $3-billion deal to lease an Akula-1 nuclear-powered attack submarine in March 2019.

Besides, the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) between India and the US to co-develop and produce cutting-edge military technologies has failed to take off since being launched in 2012. But Indian and US officials contend DTTI is now being jump-started, with the two sides agreeing last October to focus on seven projects. These include a “short-term” one to develop drone swarms that can overwhelm enemy air defences and a “long-term” one on anti-drone technology called “counter-UAS rocket, artillery and mortar systems”.

“DTTI will now steadily move forward. Moreover, there is also growing integration between Indian and American defence industries,” said a senior Indian official.

Similarly, joint exercises, from the naval “Malabar” (with Japan as the third regular participant) to the counterterror “Vajra Prahar” and “Yudh Abhyas”, are becoming wider in scope, size and complexity. The two sides also held their first-ever tri-Service exercise, “Tiger Triumph”, in Bay of Bengal last November.

India is now also moving towards finalising the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA), the fourth and final foundational pact with the US after the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) of 2002, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) of 2016 and the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) of 2018.

While LEMOA provides for reciprocal logistical support, COMCASA has paved the way for India to get greater access to military technologies. BECA will enable the US to share advanced satellite and topographical data for longrange navigation and missiletargeting with India. “The next meeting to discuss BECA will be in March. It will probably be ready for inking by next year,” said a senior official.

Four major pacts

Lakshi Bhatia, October 30, 2020: The Times of India

India and the US inked the long-pending Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) — a key military pact on geo-spatial cooperation during the recently concluded ‘2+2’ Indo-US Talks on October 27. With this, the two countries now have four agreements that cover areas of military information, logistics exchange, compatibility, and security between them.

All of them are foundational defence pacts that a country needs to sign to enter into a kind of military alliance and obtain leading-edge weapons and communications systems from the US. This is what each one entails…


Signed in 2020

The most recent one, it was signed when US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark T Esper were in India for the third edition of the 2+2 dialogue between the two countries. The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) provides for real-time exchange of geo-spatial intelligence through advanced satellite imagery, topographical and aeronautical digital data for long-range navigation and pinpointed strikes against enemy targets. With this, the US military will provide advanced navigational aids and avionics on US-supplied aircraft to India. Which means, Indian military will have access to sophisticated GPS which will allow it to use its ballistic and cruise missiles, drones and other weapons with pin-point accuracy.

While the US has been providing military intelligence to India during the current crisis on the China border, like it did during the 73-day military confrontation at Doklam in 2017, BECA will further smoothen the process.

The agreement also serves as an important precursor to India acquiring armed unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Predator-B from the US. There will also be provisions for sharing classified information like sensitive satellite and sensor data.

BECA will facilitate exchange of real-time geospatial information between India and US for both military and civilian use. The new agreement follows the COMCASA information-sharing pact signed in 2018 and the military logistics pact LEMOA in 2016.


Signed in 2018

COMCASA or Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, was signed in 2018 with the intention of getting Indian military critical and encrypted defence technologies from the US. The agreement provides the legal framework for the US to part with its sensitive communication equipment and codes to enable transfer of real time operational information. This equipment is largely used for ground-to-air communication, on installed US-origin military aircraft, to enable best battle situation awareness.

The US data link is considered the most secure communication platform, and the agreement allows India access to American intelligence data, including real-time imagery.

It also allows both sides to operate on the same communication systems, enabling an “interoperable” environment for militaries. Effectively, COMCASA, means India sharing the real-time American intelligence on military deployments by China and Pakistan. COMCASA also allows India to obtain the armed version of the Sea Guardian drones. Earlier, India also had to depend on commercially available less secure systems on, otherwise, high-end platforms like C-130Js and the P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, among others. COMCASA changed that.


Signed in 2016

LEMOA, or Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), a tweaked India-specific version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), was the first ‘foundational agreement’ signed by India and the US in 2016. LEMOA facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies, and services between the US and Indian militaries on a reimbursable basis and provides a framework to govern them.

It helps both countries in governing the use of each other's land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply — a step toward defence ties to counter the growing maritime assertiveness of China. It facilitates regular interactions between military services and cooperation in areas of mutual interest, such as counter-terrorism, maritime security, special operations, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

In the past, India had given the US ad-hoc access to its military facilities, such as, allowing refuelling of American warplanes in Mumbai during the 1991 Gulf War. Signing the pact made payments easier. With LEMOA in place, in October, US long-range maritime patrol aircraft refuelled at the Andaman and Nicobar islands, displaying the military collaboration between the two countries amid India’s standoff with China along the border in Ladakh. LEMOA does not allow for stationing of US troops in India or setting up of US bases.


Signed in 2002 

The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) was signed by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government back in 2002. The agreement prescribed security standards and protocols for safeguarding information shared by the Pentagon with India’s defence ministry, as well as by US defence firms with Indian defence public sector undertakings (DPSUs). However, GSOMIA did not cover the exchange of classified information with Indian private companies.


The new relationship: ten highlights/ 2016

The Times of India, April 14, 2016

US troops can use Indian bases: 10 things to know

India and the US agreed "in principle" to a logistics exchange agreement to enable both militaries to use each other's assets and bases for repair and replenishment of supplies. Here are 10 things to know:

1. Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)

LEMOA is a tweaked version of Logistics Support Agreement (LSA) which facilitates the provision of logistical support, supplies and services between the US military and the armed forces of partner countries. American aircraft and warships will soon be able to access Indian military bases and vice versa for refuelling, repair and other logistical purposes.

2. Shift from the UPA regime

LEMOA is a shift from the policy of the UPA regime. Then defence minister A K Antony, backed by the Left and others, had opposed the three foundational pacts: Logistics Support Agreement, Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) - on the grounds that they would "compromise" India's traditional strategic autonomy and give "basing rights" to the US military in the country.

3. No stationing of US troops on Indian soil

Manohar Parrikar and his US counterpart Ashton Carter stressed that Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) did not entail stationing of any US troops on Indian soil, even as officials added that India will not extend support in the event of any US military action against "friendly countries". "We can refuse access to our bases whenever we want," said an official.

4. No military alliance against China

Top Indian officials clarified that the "reciprocal" logistics pact was just meant to facilitate military cooperation and not aimed at forging any sort of a military alliance against China.

5. Boost to Delhi-Washington military ties

The US is the largest arms supplier to India over last 4 years. The US has bagged Indian arms contracts worth over $14 billion since 2007 and more are in pipeline. India and the US hold several military exercises every year. IAF fighters and aircraft are on way for Red Flag exercise in Alaska from April 28.

6. Collaboration on carrier

India and US are also advancing collaboration in aircraft carrier design and technology, potentially the biggest joint project since they launched a Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) in 2012. India, which operates a re-tooled Russian-built carrier, plans to build its biggest indigenous carrier, for which is it looking at US technology to launch heavier aircraft. "We have decided to take forward discussions under DTTI more aggressively on key areas such as jet engine technology. We will also continue our very useful and productive discussions on cooperation ... on aircraft carriers," Parrikar said.

7. Boost to US's 'Asia pivot'

US has increasingly turned its focus to Asia as it tries to counter China's growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, and is eager for India to play a greater role in its network of regional defence alliances.A senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said China was "operating more frequently both throughout Southeast Asia and in the Indian Ocean", something both Washington and New Delhi were "watching closely".

8. Maritime security cooperation

India and the US will also further bolster maritime security cooperation, which will include stepping up the complexity of its combat exercises and talks on anti-submarine warfare, but there are no plans for joint naval patrols in the contentious South China Sea or elsewhere. "India has not changed its stand (on joint patrols)," defence minister Manohar Parrikar said.

9. Boost to 'Make in India'

India, the world's biggest arms importer, wants access to US technology so it can develop sophisticated weapons at home - a key part of PM Modi's "Make in India" campaign to boost domestic manufacturing. US defence secretary Ashton Carter also held talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi later on Tuesday as part of his three-day visit, aimed at shoring up security and defence ties with regional power India.

10. Indian Ocean

India and US will work closely together in the Indian Ocean. Indian forces rarely operate far away from their shores but access to US bases in Djibouti and Diego Garcia could be useful.

Security cooperation/2016

Obama signed $618 billion defence bill, boosted security cooperation with India, Dec 24, 2016: The Times of India


Obama has signed into law the $618 billion defence budget for 2017.

The defence bill "enhances security cooperation" between the US and India.

Pakistan will have to act against Haqqani terror network to get nearly 50% of US aid.

US President Barack Obama has signed into law the $618 billion defence budget for 2017, which enhances security cooperation with India and conditions nearly half of the funding to Pakistan on a certification that it is taking demonstrable steps against the Haqqani Network.

Currently vacationing in Hawaii, Obama on Friday signed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) 2017, which asks defence secretary and secretary of state to take steps necessary to recognise India as America's "major defence partner".

A summary of the bill released by chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee Senator John McCain said NDAA-2017 "enhances security cooperation" between the US and India.

It also asks the administration to designate an individual within the executive branch who has experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure, through inter-agency policy coordination, the success of the Framework for the US-India Defence Relationship; and to help resolve remaining issues impeding US-India defence trade, security cooperation, and co-production and co-development opportunities.

The NDAA, which among other things creates a USD 1.2 billion Counter-ISIL Fund, imposes four conditions on Pakistan to be eligible for $400 million of the $900 million of the coalition support fund (CSF).

The US defence secretary needs to certify to the Congress that Pakistan continues to conduct military operations that are contributing to significantly disrupting the safe haven and freedom of movement of the Haqqani Network in Pakistan and that Islamabad has taken steps to demonstrate its commitment to prevent the Haqqani Network from using any of its territory as a safe haven.

Early in 2016, US defence secretary Ashton Carter refused to give a similar certification to Pakistan due to which it was not given $300 million under coalition support fund. In his signing statement, Obama did not mention to any of these provisions of the bill, but he did expressed disappointment over certain other provisions in NDAA-2017.

He said: "I remain deeply concerned about the Congress's use of the National Defence Authorisation Act to impose extensive organisational changes on the department of defence, disregarding the advice of the department's senior civilian and uniformed leaders.

"The extensive changes in the bill are rushed, the consequences poorly understood, and they come at a particularly inappropriate time as we undertake a transition between administrations. These changes not only impose additional administrative burdens on the department of defence and make it less agile, but they also create additional bureaucracies and operational restrictions that generate inefficiencies at a time when we need to be more efficient."


2017, some bi-lateral agreements

India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), arms deals, C-17 Globemaster-III, some facts; The Times of India, Feb 10, 2017
cndia-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), joint projects, F-16 or F/A 18 fighter production line, NBC warfare protection gear, some facts; The Times of India, Feb 10, 2017
India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), bilateral pacts, some facts; The Times of India, Feb 10, 2017
India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), combat exercises, some facts; The Times of India, Feb 10, 2017

See graphics:

India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), arms deals, C-17 Globemaster-III, some facts

ndia-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), joint projects, F-16 or F/A 18 fighter production line, NBC warfare protection gear, some facts

India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), bilateral pacts, some facts

India-US defence ties (February 10, 2017), combat exercises, some facts

2017, Bilateral military partnership

Bilateral military partnership, India-US, as on Sep 20, 2017 ; The Times of India, Sep 20, 2017

See graphic:

Bilateral military partnership, India-US, as on Sep 20, 2017


Ties improve markedly

Rajat Pandit, June 25, 2018: The Times of India

US- India military relations, as in 2018:
i) Military pacts; and
ii) Arms deals
From: Rajat Pandit, June 25, 2018: The Times of India


The UPA had stonewalled attempts by the US to ink the three so-called "foundational military agreements" during its 10-year tenure on the ground that it would "compromise the strategic autonomy" of India

The NDA govt inked the first one on reciprocal logistics support - Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with India-specific safeguards in 2016.

The strategic clinch with the US is set to get even tighter, with India signaling its readiness to ink two more bilateral military pacts, procure helicopters worth $3 billion and participate in a joint tri-Service amphibious exercise for the first time. Top government sources say “substantial progress” has now been made towards finalizing the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) + and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) between the two countries.

The previous UPA regime had stonewalled all attempts by the US to push for the inking of the three so-called “foundational military agreements” during its 10-year tenure on the ground that it would “compromise the strategic autonomy” of India. But the NDA government went ahead and inked the first one on reciprocal logistics support -- Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) — with India-specific safeguards in 2016. +

Now, the stage is being set for the other two, COMCASA and BECA, which the US contends will allow India more access to advanced military technologies and platforms with encrypted communications like Predator-B and MQ-9 Reaper drones.

“The broad contours of COMCASA have been finalized…only some text-based negotiations are left. The BECA draft is also under discussion. We have insisted on India-specific assurances, much like what was done in LEMOA, and a status on par with its closest allies,” said a source.

This comes ahead of the first India-US “two-plus-two” dialogue between foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman with their American counterparts, Mike Pompeo and Jim Mattis, in Washington on July 6.

Sources say the two countries have also decided to hold their first-ever mega tri-Service amphibious exercise to supplement the flurry of wargames they already hold every year from the top-notch naval Malabar (with Japan as the third participant) to the counter-terror Vajra Prahar and Yudh Abhyas between their armies.

This will be only the second time India will deploy assets and manpower from its Army, Navy and IAF together for an exercise with a foreign country, after the Indra wargames were held with Russia at Vladivostok last year.

The US, of course, remains keen to make further inroads into the lucrative Indian arms market, having already bagged deals worth $15 billion over the last decade. While the US hard-sell to set up a F/A-18 “Super Hornet” or a F-16 fighter production line in India in still in a preliminary stage, India has virtually finalized the acquisition of six more Boeing Apache attack helicopters for $930 million and 24 Sikorsky S-70B multi-role naval choppers with potent anti-submarine warfare capabilities for around $2 billion.

The IAF, incidentally, is slated to induct 12 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers in the 2019-2020 timeframe under the contracts inked for them, worth Rs 13,952 crore and Rs 8,048 crore respectively, in September 2015.

India, however, remains miffed about the new US sanctions regime called CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanction Act) that targets countries buying weapon systems from Russia. As reported earlier by TOI, India and Russia are working to get around CAATSA because they have new defence projects worth over $12 billion hanging in the balance as well as the operational need to maintain the huge inventory of Russian-origin equipment held by the Indian armed forces.

Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) signed

Kallol Bhattacherjee Dinakar Peri, Both sides tell Pak. to end terror attacks, September 7, 2018: The Hindu

India and the United States sealed the landmark Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will lead to a new generation of bilateral military partnership.

Apart from the agreement that was signed at the end of the inaugural India-U.S. ‘2+2’ Ministerial Dialogue, both sides also called on Pakistan to stop terrorist strikes on ‘other countries’ and urged for maritime freedom in the Indo-Pacific region.

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James N. Mattis led the American delegation, and the Indian team was headed by their counterparts Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitharaman.

“They welcomed the signing of a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement that will facilitate access to advanced defence systems and enable India to optimally utilise its existing U.S.-origin platforms,” a Joint Statement issued at the end of the bilateral dialogue declared.

2019: a deepening of ties

Nov 20, 2019: The New York Times

WASHINGTON — As Indian helicopters touched down this week on the deck of an American warship in the Bay of Bengal, what was billed as a modest military simulation became the latest sign of progress in a growing great power partnership in Asia.

The United States and India will conclude the first land, sea and air exercise in their history of military exchanges, a step forward in White House efforts to deepen defense cooperation between the countries.

The exercise, Tiger Triumph, brought together 500 American Marines and sailors, and about 1,200 Indian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel to train side-by-side for nine days. While the official focus was to prepare for rescue operations and disaster response, it also included search-and-seizure training and live-fire drills.

The staging of the joint training completes one of the goals of a defense pact the two countries signed last year. In addition to the exercise, the agreement allows for the transfer of advanced weaponry and communications systems to India.

The only other country with which India has held similar exercises involving three branches of its armed forces is Russia. During the Cold War, India was closer to the Soviet Union than to the United States, and much of the Indian arsenal still harkens back to that era.

“You hear officials say now that the U.S. exercises more with India than any other non-NATO partner,” said Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “You would never have imagined that 20 years ago.”

The drills ending this week followed the 15th cycle of a separate training mission, the Yudh Abhyas exercise, an annual peacekeeping practice between the two countries’ armies that was held this year in September at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State. It involved close to 700 troops.

As the White House grapples with security challenges in Asia, including nuclear talks with North Korea and fears of growing Chinese technological prowess, meetings with leaders from the Asia-Pacific region have been a common sight on President Trump’s calendar. State visits with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia have both ranked among Mr. Trump’s most visible diplomatic events over the past year.

But increasingly in recent years, the Trump administration has placed its bets that India, which has historically represented a regional challenge in its own right, is quickly becoming a key player in the larger American strategy in Asia. That does not mean significant issues do not bedevil the United States-India relationship, in particular the tense standoff over Kashmir with Pakistan. Both nations have nuclear arms.

The White House has not been quiet about its view that American allies around the world have been remiss in contributing fairly to global security efforts. In India, though, it has found a partner that many officials believe is both willing and able to play a larger role.

Appearing beside Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India in September at a rally in Houston, Mr. Trump heralded the exercise this month as a demonstration of the “dramatic progress of our defense relationship.” Joint appearances with Mr. Modi have been a mainstay of high-level diplomacy in Mr. Trump’s tenure, and the president has pursued a stronger military relationship with India even as he has disparaged or cut back on defense ties with traditional allies in Asia.

Before the Group of 20 summit over the summer, Mr. Trump questioned the value of the United States’ mutual defense treaty with Japan, a cornerstone of American defense policy in Asia put in place in 1951 after World War II. And in the months before, the Pentagon repeatedly suspended or scaled back military exercises with South Korea as Mr. Trump pursued a nuclear agreement with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

The United States and India have long shared common strategic goals and concerns about growing Chinese influence in Asia. But meaningful cooperation has often been sidetracked by points of contention, like India’s decision to move ahead with a deal to buy a Russian missile system known as the S-400 in violation of American sanctions. The specter of Russian weapons sales to an ally has also roiled Washington’s relationship with Turkey.

Facing what it sees as threats to the established international order from China, however, the Pentagon has become increasingly concerned about regional stability and more eager to aid in strengthening ties in the region.

After a meeting last week with Japanese leaders in Tokyo, Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described security efforts in the Indo-Pacific region as a top concern. “It is the No. 1 regional priority for the United States military,” he said.

The Trump administration’s efforts to woo India are in many ways a continuation of a foreign policy pursued by Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama aspired to move closer to India strategically, and succeeded measurably in areas like arms sales.

According to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, exports of American weapons to India from 2013 to 2017 increased 557 percent over the previous five-year period. American arms sales to India currently stand around $18 billion, and could climb after the approval of a deal to allow India to buy $1 billion worth of naval guns and ammunition.

“India is now at that level where it’s basically like a NATO partner even if there’s no alliance,” said Siemon T. Wezeman, a senior researcher at the institute.

The United States and India share concerns about China potentially using ports across the Indian and Pacific Oceans to expand its economic and political influence, as well as to add to the reach of the Chinese Navy. Some analysts describe these potential dual-use ports across the Indian Ocean as Beijing’s “string of pearls.”

But while past administrations also made efforts to align more closely with India, they were typically part of a larger strategy of building out a regional defense network in Asia — one that often included India’s rivals, in particular Pakistan.

“One of the reasons why the Trump administration has been able to move forward with India relatively quickly is that it’s less concerned about alienating Pakistan,” said Daniel Kliman, the director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. To many analysts, the Trump administration’s intensive push to expand defense relations with India presents an opportunity to advance operations in Asia far beyond what has been possible with the help of traditional allies alone.

“There’s recognition that what India might contribute to a broader regional balance is enormous,” Mr. Kliman said.

Edward Wong contributed reporting from Washington, and Maria Abi-Habib from Delhi.


LAC crisis with China


‘US provided info, equipment to India during LAC crisis’

The US provided some information, cold-weather clothing and some other equipment to India during its recent border crisis with China, which has adopted an increasingly assertive military posture to exert pressure and expand its influence across the region, Admiral Davidson told the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee.

Missile deals

Sriram Lakshman, U.S. approves sale of missiles, torpedoes to India, April 14, 2020: The Hindu


The U.S. State Department has approved two potential missile deals with India, for an estimated $92 million and $63 million.


The first deal, for which Boeing is the contractor, is for 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles and related equipment. These missiles can be fitted onto Boeing’s P-8I (Poseidon-Eight India) maritime patrol aircraft, and are intended to enhance India’s capability in anti-surface warfare while defending its sea lanes.

The second deal, for $63 million and principally contracted with Raytheon Integrated Defense System, is for 16 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT); three MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes (MK 54 LWT Kit procurement required); and related equipment.

Also included are MK 54 spare parts, torpedo containers, two Recoverable Exercise Torpedoes (REXTORP) with containers and related equipment and support from the U.S. government and contractors.

The torpedoes are expected to enhance India’s anti-submarine warfare capability and can be used with the P-8I.

There are no known offset agreements for both deals, the State Department said, and any offset agreement will be defined in negotiations between India and the contractors.


US Navy ship docks in India for repairs

August 8, 2022: The Times of India

New Delhi: As part of the everexpanding bilateral defence and military ties, a US Navy warship has docked in India for the first time for repairs and allied services. USNS Charles Drew, a cargo ship, arrived at the L&T shipyard at Kattupalli, Chennai, for the 11-day repair work on Sunday. The development comes at a time when India and China are locked in the over two-year-long military confrontation in eastern Ladakh, which has shown no signs of de-escalation till now. 
“This is the first-ever repair of aUS Navy ship in India. The US Navy had awarded a contract to L&T’s shipyard at Kattupalli for undertaking maintenance of the ship,” a defence ministry official said. “It adds a new dimension to the India-US strategic partnership and signifies the capabilities of Indian shipyards in the global ship repairing market. Indian shipyards offer wide-ranging and costeffective ship repair and maintenance services, using advanced maritime technology platforms. ”

India had offered the US “repair and maintenance” of its warships in the region during the ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue in Washington in April, stressing it would provide customised service in a cost-effective manner, as was then reported by TOI.

Defence secretary Dr Ajay Kumar and Navy vice chief Vice Admiral SN Ghormade, among other top officials, visited the L&T shipyard to welcome USNS Charles Drew on Sunday. US consul general in Chennai, Judith Ravin, and defence attaché Rear Admiral Michael Baker were also present during the occasion. Terming the event “a red-letter day” for the Indian shipbuilding industry and the IndoUS defence relationship, Kumar said, “We are pleased to welcome US Navy ship to India. . . India’s initiative also assumes special significance in furthering the strategic partnership between India and the US. It marks the beginning of a new chapter for deeper engagements. ” “Today, India has six major shipyards with a turnover of nearly $2 billion. We are making ships not only for our own requirements. We have our own design house capable of making all kinds of state-of-the-art ships. ,” he said. With an eye on China, the defence secretary said the India-US ties have been expanding in scale and scope, based as they are on “the common values and beliefs of an open, inclusive and rule-based order in Indo-Pacific and rest of the global common systems”. There has been a tremendous amount of traction in the defence industry cooperation over the last few years between the two countries. “Indian defence exports have seen a massive increase in the last four-five years. Exports, which were worth about Rs 1,500 crore in 2015-16, have now grown by 800% to Rs 13,000 crore. A major destination for Indian exports is the US,” Kumar said. US consul general Ravin called it a new chapter in the Indo-US relationship, signifying the deepening bonds between the two nations.

See also

US- India relations

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