Defence Minister Rajnath Singh seeing off the United States Secretary of Defence, Lloyd Austin following their bilateral meeting, in New Delhi last Monday (Image courtesy: PIB)
India and the United States on Monday welcomed the conclusion of a new roadmap for defence industrial cooperation between the two countries which will fast-track technology cooperation and co-production in areas such as air combat and land mobility systems; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; munitions; and the undersea domain.
The initiative is expected to change the paradigm for cooperation between the US and Indian defence sectors and includes a set of specific proposals that could provide India access to cutting-edge technologies and support New Delhi’s defence modernization plans.
During his meetings with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval in New Delhi on Monday, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin exchanged perspectives on a range of regional security issues and committed to collaborating closely with India in support of their shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Austin’s two-day visit reinforced the major defence partnership and advanced cooperation in critical domains ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official state visit to Washington later this month.
Singh and Austin explored ways of building resilient supply chains with both sides agreeing to identify opportunities for co-development of new technologies and co-production of existing and new systems besides facilitating increased collaboration between defence start-up ecosystems of the two countries.
“The Secretary and Minister Singh also committed to strengthen operational collaboration across all military services, with an eye to supporting India’s leading role as a security provider in the Indo-Pacific. They discussed new opportunities to strengthen information sharing and increase cooperation in the maritime domain,” the US Defence Department said in a statement.
It mentioned that Austin welcomed India’s “leadership role” in the Quad Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative (IPMDA) which will provide cutting-edge domain awareness capability to countries across the Indo-Pacific region.
The two ministers also pledged to review regulatory hurdles impeding closer industry-to-industry cooperation and to initiate negotiations on a Security of Supply Arrangement and a Reciprocal Defence Procurement agreement, which will promote long-term supply chain stability.
Welcoming the inaugural dialogues held recently focusing on Defence Artificial Intelligence and Defence Space, both countries spotlighted the growing importance of defence innovation and cooperation in emerging domains such as space, cyberspace, and artificial intelligence.
On June 21, a day before PM Modi attends the State dinner hosted by US President Joe Biden, a new initiative to advance cutting-edge technology cooperation between India and the United States titled ‘INDUS-X’ (India-US Defence Acceleration Ecosystem) will be launched by the US-India Business Council.
It is designed to complement existing government-to-government collaboration by promoting innovative partnerships between Indian and US companies, investors, start-up accelerators, and academic research institutions.
Delighted to meet my friend, @SecDef Austin in New Delhi. Our talks revolved around enhancing defence cooperation in several areas including convergence of strategic interests and enhanced security cooperation. pic.twitter.com/Lb98hRkNMj
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 5, 2023
Austin’s meeting with NSA Doval focused on exchanging views about regional and global security issues of concern, including maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
“The Secretary welcomed Mr. Doval’s perspective about shared security interests and objectives, including his ideas for greater maritime collaboration,” said the US Department of Defence.
As Austin underscored the centrality of the US-India partnership to maintaining peace and security in the Indo-Pacific region, the NSA stressed cooperation in specific niche technologies in maritime, military and aerospace domains to boost capabilities.