The reason why India continues to ‘reject’ US warplanes is because India would have to seek US permission if it wants to export these fighter planes.
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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III’s just-concluded visit to India (June 4-5 ) has been described as reinforcing the major defense partnership and advancing cooperation in critical domains ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official state visit to Washington later this month.
Since defense cooperation has emerged “as the most significant dimension” of the India-US strategic partnership and “a key driver” of the bilateral relationship over the recent years, Austin’s visit will be remembered for marking the conclusion of what is said “a new Roadmap for U.S.-India Defense Industrial Cooperation, 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.”
It may be noted that since the signing of the Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship in 2005 (renewed in 2015), bilateral defense engagement between the two countries has come a long way.
Now, the two conduct a maximum number of joint exercises involving their forces at bilateral and multilateral levels (Vijayprahar, Yudh Abhyas, Spitting Cobra, Red Flag, Sangam, Cope India, Malabar, and Milan, etc.).
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India has bought US military systems and platforms worth more than 21 billion dollars in the last few years (C- 130 J Special operations planes, C-17 transporters, P-81 submarine hunter planes, CH-47 Chinook helicopters, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, M777 howitzers, and MH-80 Seahawk maritime helicopters, etc.).
The US has helped India gain memberships in global and export control regimes such as the Australia Group, the Wassenaar Arrangement, and the Missile Technology Control Regime. It has helped India’s civilian space and defense sectors.
The US has also designated India as a “Major Defence Partner (MDP),” a status unique to India. It is supposed to have made India more or less at par with the closest allies of the US.
The two countries have also signed the Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative (DTTI), Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET).
India has been added to the Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) list of the US, which has been critical to easing export controls for high-technology product sales to India by the US.
Importantly, except for the DTTI signed in 2012, all the above agreements, some of them being “foundational “ or “basic,” have been concluded after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister.
The previous governments in Delhi were reluctant to conclude them, the rationale being that those would make India a member of the “US-led camp” and affect the country’s long-cherished strategic autonomy.
Such reasoning was dubious, to speak the least. But the fact remains that with the coming of the Modi government, the Indo-US relations, including the security ties, have undergone dramatic changes.
With the evolution of a bilateral dialogue mechanism of two- plus- two mechanisms (meeting of the defense and foreign ministers of the countries together) and a multilateral forum of QUAD (India, US, Australia, and Japan), Indo-US partnership in the field of Defense is now said to have a major role in ensuring a free, open, inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific for peace and stability in a 21st century-world.
According to a press release from the Japanese Ministry of Defense (MoD), Japan has created new hypersonic missiles to deter Chinese military aggression against what is known as the First Island Chain.