The US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s visit ahead of Foreign Ministerial Quad talks later this year is another indication of how important the US-India bilateral relationship has become for regional and global stability. The agenda of the visit starting on July 27, 2021, is expected to focus on various aspects of regional and international security and further enhance defense relations.
Over the weekend, sources had confirmed to Financial Express Online: “Defence transfers and technologies, more drills, policy exchanges as well as exploring ways and means to further deepen collaboration in the defense domain is on the agenda of talks.” Later this year the 4th round of 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue is scheduled to take place in DC. Both defense Minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister Dr. S Jaishankar will travel to the US to attend this meeting.
Over the last couple of decades wide-ranging defense cooperation and expanding military-to-military engagement across services, information sharing, cooperation in emerging sectors of defense, and mutual logistics support have been the hallmark of the bilateral India-US relationship.
India-US Military Cooperation
Both countries have agreed to pursue enhanced cooperation with the US Indo-Pacific Command and other Commands.
“With the foundational agreements, LEMOA, COMCASA, and BECA, in place and India gaining entry into MTCR the governments are discussing the steps to be taken to understand their full potential for mutual benefit. The long-pending acquisition of 30 Sea Guardian unmanned aircraft worth approximately USD 3 billion for the Indian Navy, Indian Army, and the Indian Air Force bring various elements of this strategic partnership,” sources told Financial Express Online.
When was the first mention of Guardian made?
It was publically made in 2017 in the White House joint government statement issued in Washington DC when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had visited that country.
The drones will come with different configurations as the payloads for each service is different. In 2020, during the ongoing standoff between the armies of India and China, the Indian Navy had leased two Sea Guardian drones from the US Company General Atomic. According to reports, the outgoing Indian Navy Vice Chief Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar has talked about the AoN for the Sea Guardians to come soon. “These MQ-9 Sea Guardian drones will help the Indian Navy to keep a close watch on any vessel of interest operating in the Indian Ocean Region.”
Last week, India also took delivery of the first two Lockheed Martin-Sikorsky MH60R multi-role helicopters (MRH) in San Diego, California. These helicopters will soon join the Indian Navy.
Japan, Australia, India, and the United States have been increasingly wanting to cooperate in the various economic and security domains.
The common thread in these major defense deals
As has been reported by Financial Express Online earlier, the negotiations for three major assets of the Indian Navy (P8I, MH-60R helicopters, Sea Guardian Drones) were spearheaded by world-renowned scientist Dr. Vivek Lall. He has been the architect of significant US-India Military trade in the last decade. He has played a very important role in further expanding the military sales between the two countries. As a US India Business Council Board member Dr. Lall was recently part of an interaction with Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman for boosting bilateral investment and economic growth.
As a Board member of the US-Japan Business Council, Dr. Lall has also interacted with Prime Minister Suga of Japan on bilateral economic growth. The Quad heads of state recently said “We will begin cooperation on the critical technologies of the future to make sure that innovation is in line with a free, open, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific.”
The QUAD (the US, Japan, India, and Australia) are already operating P-8I, MH-60R helicopters too. India has recently received two MH-60R and is awaiting their arrival. Also, all the QUAD countries are interested in the Sea Guardian drones.
As is known the Indian Navy is already flying the P-8I that has come from the US aerospace company for the carrying out anti-submarine warfare and surveillance. And when the Sea Guardians drones deal is done, they will further strengthen the Indian Navy’s maritime reconnaissance. And it will be able to expand its area of surveillance and monitoring of the IOR as well as coastal boundaries and assets.
Indian Navy will become more potent with the Sea Guardian Drones flying in sync with the P8I as well as the MH60R helicopters.
Defense Deals in the pipeline
India and the US are in discussions for Raytheon’s National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II; BAE Systems Naval Guns and the Sea Guardian Drones. The Trump administration had also offered Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile defense systems to India.
Source: Financial Express