Parrikar Does It Again: Strikes A Hard Bargain For India with Carter
by Anupama Airy
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has done it again. Striking a hard bargain with the visiting US Defence Secretary, Dr Ashton Carter, Parrikar has made it possible for India to collaborate with the US and get home the technology for jet fighter engines as also for building aircraft carriers within the next one year.
Alongside, taking forward Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, Parrikar has succeeded in extending the scope of co-operation with the US under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
This, officials said, would eventually mean setting up of manufacturing lines by top US companies in India to manufacture latest state-of-the art fighter aircrafts – a move that will benefit India both economically and strategically.
“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,” Parrikar told a media gathering on April 12.
“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,” Parrikar said.
While no further and specific details were given, officials revealed that a high level team from Boeing held detailed discussions with senior defence ministry brass over the same issue on the evening of April 12th.
Both the US fighter jet makers– Lockheed Martin (that makes F 16 fighter jets) and Boeing (that makes F/A 18 super hornet jet fighters) have expressed keen interest to set up manufacturing facilities for these two niche aircrafts in India in line with the Modi government’s “Make in India” initiative.
“For India, this besides being a strategically important decision will also result into creation of jobs besides creating an ecosystem for components, sub-systems and spare supplies….The manufacturing line for jet fighters in India would by and large also raise the skill levels of people involved in this initiative. What will add to India’s strategic advantage would be that once you have manufacturing line in India, the same can be used for exporting to third countries,” said a senior bureaucrat.
“With the aim of encouraging greater participation of U.S. Defence Industries in the Make In India program of the Government of India, Raksha Mantri Parrikar informed Secretary Carter about the recently announced Defence Procurement Policy and other reforms in the Indian defence sector. Both sides agreed to encourage their respective defence industries to develop new partnerships in the pursuit of a range of cutting-edge projects. In support of Make in India, the United States shared two proposals to bolster India’s suite of fighter aircraft for consideration of the Government of India,” the joint Indo-US statement said.
Parrikar and Carter further reiterated their commitment to pursue co-development and co-production of advanced defence articles under the DTTI. In this context, they agreed to initiate two new DTTI pathfinder projects on Digital Helmet Mounted Displays and the Joint Biological Tactical Detection System.
Agreeing to seal the logistics agreement was another highlight of this visit. Parikkar said that growing interaction between the armed forces of India and the US is another significant aspect of this bilateral partnership.
“Today, India has more joint exercises with the United States than with any other country in the world. After a few years, we are taking part in multilateral exercises such as the Red Flag Air Force exercise and the RIMPAC Naval Exercise….. As our engagement deepens, we need to develop practical mechanisms to facilitate such exchanges. In this context, Secretary Carter and I agreed in principle to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEOMA) in the coming months,” he added.
Carter’s visit to India assumes significance as this is his second visit in less than a year, reflecting his continued interest in expanding bilateral defence relations between our two countries. Carter’s visits also 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.
“India regards Dr Carter as a great friend and advocate of a stronger India-US partnership. We appreciate his personal commitment and guidance in deepening the strategic partnership between India and the United States,” said Parrikar.
Parrikar said his discussions with Carter, spread over the past three days, will see the India-US relationship emerging as one of the key global partnerships of this Century.
Defence cooperation is a central pillar of India’s multi-faceted relationship with the US. A stronger India-US partnership will promote peace, stability and progress in our region and the world.
It was entirely appropriate that we visited India’s western shores. Even as we work with the United States to realize 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.
Taking the cooperation forward, Parrikar and Carter also agreed to set up a new bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue between officials from their respective Defence and External Affairs Ministries.
Agreeing on service-to-service arrangements, India and the US have also decided to enhance the on-going Navy-to-Navy discussions to cover submarine-related issues.
“Both countries will also deepen cooperation in Maritime Domain Awareness by finalizing a ‘White Shipping’ Agreement,” Parrikar said.
“They agreed to commence Navy-to-Navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare. They also agreed to launch a bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, co-chaired by officials at the Joint Secretary/Assistant Secretary-level of the Indian Ministries of Defence and External Affairs and the U.S. Departments of Defense and State,” said a joint Indo-US statement.
Hard Bargain By Parrikar For India
· To encourage greater participation of U.S. Defence Industries in the Make In India program, both sides agreed to encourage their respective defence industries to develop new partnerships in the pursuit of a range of cutting-edge projects.
· In support of Make in India, the United States shared two proposals to bolster India’s suite of fighter aircraft for consideration of the Government of India.
· Reviewed the progress since the signing of the new Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Framework Relationship last June to deepen bilateral defence ties.
· Discussed the priorities for the coming year in defence ties
· Discussed specific steps that the two sides will take to pursue priorities in the next one year
· Priorities include expanding collaboration under DTTI, Make in India efforts of Government of India, new opportunities to deepen cooperation in maritime security and Maritime Domain Awareness; military-to-military relations; the knowledge partnership in the field of defence; and regional and international security matters of mutual interest.
· Both sides expressed desire to explore agreements which would facilitate further expansion of bilateral defence cooperation in practical ways.
· Announced their in principle agreement to conclude a Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and to continue working toward other facilitating agreements to enhance military cooperation and technology transfer.
· Agreed to strengthen cooperation in the area of maritime security.
· To expeditiously conclude a “white shipping” technical arrangement to improve data sharing on commercial shipping traffic.
· Agreed to commence Navy-to-Navy discussions on submarine safety and anti-submarine warfare.
· Agreed to launch a bilateral Maritime Security Dialogue, co-chaired by officials at the Joint Secretary/Assistant Secretary-level of the Indian Ministries of Defence and External Affairs and the U.S. Departments of Defense and State.
· Both sides reaffirmed the importance of safeguarding maritime security and ensuring freedom of navigation and over flight throughout the region, including in the South China Sea.
· Vowed their support for a rules-based order and regional security architecture conducive to peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean
· Emphasized their commitment to working together and with other nations to ensure the security and stability that have been beneficial to the Asia-Pacific for decades.
· Reviewed the progress and reiterated their commitment to pursue co-development and co-production of advanced defence articles under the DTTI.
· Agreed to initiate two new DTTI pathfinder projects on Digital Helmet Mounted Displays and the Joint Biological Tactical Detection System.
· Commended the on-going discussions at the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group (JETJWG) and the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC).
· Agreed to work towards greater cooperation in the field of cutting-edge defence technologies, including deepening consultations on aircraft carrier design and operations, and jet engine technology.
· Noted the understanding reached to conclude an information exchange annex (IEA) to enhance data and information sharing specific to aircraft carriers.
Source: Defense News