During the financial year 2015-16, 44 contracts worth Rs. 39,955.36 crore have been signed for capital procurement of defence equipment (including helicopters, radars, rockets and simulators) and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) issued 61 Industrial Licenses (ILs) for manufacture of various defence equipment under IDR Act 1951, till December 2015.

2016 began with signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the French Government for purchase of 36 Rafale Aircraft. The High Committee on Defence Cooperation (HCDC) had the 15th meeting in Paris on 12 January, 2015 to discuss strategic partnership, military cooperation, procurement and research and technology. Besides the Rafale MoU, the other MoU/agreements signed between both the countries are a MoU on supplies of defence equipment, an agreement on defence cooperation, a technical arrangement between Defence Ministers of India and France concerning cooperation in the field of guided weapon systems and technology and an agreement on protection of classified information and material in the field of defence.

Following the second visit of United States Defence Secretary, Dr Ashton Carter, India’s Defence Minister, Shri Manohar Parrikar stated, that the India- US Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), has provided an unprecedented platform for the two countries to strengthen bilateral cooperation in cutting-edge technologies and to address procedural delays in decision-making. “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 in the framework of the Joint Working Group on aircraft carriers. We also agreed to expand DTTI by introducing new and more ambitious projects for mutual collaboration. Both of us noted the strong complementarities between DTTI and the Make in India initiative. I hope to work together with Secretary Carter over the coming weeks and months to facilitate synergies between Indian and US companies in high technology areas, and in particular to promote participation of Indian companies in global supply chains”, said Mr Parrikar. Dr Carter was invited by Mr Parrikar to visit Goa, the Indian naval base in Karwar and INS Vikramaditya, to showcase the Indian Navy’s commendable capabilities and then both visited the USS Blue Ridge, which was on a goodwill visit to India.

“These visits underline the growing importance of the maritime dimension of our relationship, as manifested in the Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia Pacific and the Indian Ocean region. It was entirely appropriate that we visited India’s western shores. Even as we work with the United States to realise the full potential of India’s Act East policy, we also seek a closer partnership with the United States to promote our shared interests in India’s West, especially in the context of the emerging situation in West Asia”, Mr Parrikar explained.

A new bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, involving the respective Defence and External Affairs Ministries/Departments, has been initiated. Navy-to-Navy discussions will be enhanced to cover submarine-related issues and both countries will also deepen cooperation in Maritime Domain Awareness by finalising a ‘White Shipping’ Agreement.

Referring to the growing interaction between both counties’ armed forces as another significant aspect of the bilateral partnership, the Defence Minister informed that India has more joint exercises with the United States than with any other country in the world. And India’s participation in multilateral exercises such as Red Flag Air Force exercise and RIMPAC (Rim of Pacific) naval exercise, the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, will require developing practical mechanisms to facilitate such exchanges. In this context, Dr. Carter and Mr. Parrikar agreed in principle to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in the coming months.

However, meanwhile, the plan of US to expand cooperation with India in the space sector, is causing jitters to American private space industry owing to the large scale use of low-cost Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launch vehicles for putting American satellites into orbits. It remains to be seen how this will be played out.

Lt Col Anil Bhat

Col Anil Bhat (retd) is an independent defence and security analyst he is also an Editor at Word Sword Features

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