Business & Defence

India & US To Discuss Military Deal, UAVs, Fighter Jets, Satellite Launches, and The Russia-Ukraine Crisis

The fourth India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, which will take place on April 11, 2022, would focus on a free and open Indo-Pacific, collaborative military platform development, new technologies, drones, and global issues of common interest.

The visit is announced by MEA.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) stated on Thursday that External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar will visit the United States for the 2+2 Ministerial on April 11-12 in Washington, DC. Both Rajnath Singh, the defence minister, and Dr. Jaishankar, the external affairs minister, will meet with their counterparts, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Foreign policy, defence, and security are on the bilateral agenda, as well as strategic direction and vision for furthering cooperation.

The two countries’ engagement next week will also give an opportunity for them to debate and exchange perspectives on regional and global events, as well as how they can collaborate to address issues of mutual interest and concern.

On social media, Secretary of State Blinken stated that the two countries are celebrating 75 years of diplomatic relations. The fourth 2+2 Dialogue will also underline the two countries’ strategic expanding alliance.

Dr. Jaishankar will also have a separate meeting with his American counterpart as part of an ongoing and regular interaction, and he is slated to see senior members of the US Administration, according to the MEA, to further promote the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership.

The significance of the two top ministers’ visit to the United States

The visit comes as the Russia-Ukraine conflict has worsened, and the United Nations General Assembly has passed a resolution suspending the Russian Federation’s rights to membership in the Human Rights Council. The West and its allies are pushing for tougher sanctions on Russia, while countries like Iran and Russia have begun accepting payments in local currencies for oil imports, and India is being pressured to take a stand against Russia.

Military trade, the Indo-Pacific, QUAD (India, Japan, Australia, and the United States) and QUAD of Israel, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and India, as well as increasing military ties and maritime security, are all on the table for both sides to discuss.

Military tradeis expected to reach $ 25 billion in the near future.

India was classified as a Major Defense Partner by the Trump administration in 2016, and India was promoted to Strategic Trade Authorization Tier 1 status in 2018. India will have unrestricted access to a wide range of military and dual-use technologies as a result of this position. The US Department of Commerce has regulated these technology.

By 2025, the two countries’ military trade is estimated to reach USD 25 billion. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) is the route by which the two sides trade.

Both countries have already signed key agreements such as the Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications, the Industrial Security Agreement (ISA), and BECA to further their defence cooperation.

Deals are likely to be discussed.

57 fighters for the Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier, 114 combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for the three services, Special Forces equipment, large aircraft infrared countermeasures, a missile defence system for large aircraft, the Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS), and more are among the deals.

Cooperation in Space

The two countries are likely to discuss expanding their cooperation in outer space, as well as the launch of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite, which will be launched in 2023.

Both countries’ space agencies are already cooperating in satellite navigation (SatNav), and the US Congress has agreed to classify the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) as a “allied system” in principle.

The IAF’s KC-46 tanker

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), a state-owned company, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have signed an agreement for the conversion of B767-class civil aircraft to Multi Mission Tanker Transport (MMTT) aircraft.

Last year, Torbjorn Sjogren, VP, International Government & Defence, Boeing Global Services, told Financial Express Online that the business is in talks with the Indian Air Force (IAF) about the KC-46 tanker, which is a derivative of the Boeing 767 passenger plane.

The F/A-18 Super Hornet will be on the agenda of the 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue. According to speculations, F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft will land in Goa for trials next month.

These planes are likely to be shortlisted for the Indian Navy’s IAC 1 requirement of 57 deck-based jets. According to sources, as the Russian-Ukraine situation persists, the number of planes required for the aircraft carrier may increase, delaying the modernization of the existing MiG-29K.

Will the F-15EX be discussed?

Pratt Kumar, Boeing vice president and F-15 programme manager, was in India before to the meeting. The F-15EX has been proposed for the IAF’s demand of 114 fighter jets. He met with senior officers in the Ministry of Defence.

UAVs from General Atomics are another big ticket item that will be covered when defence minister Rajnath Singh meets with his counterpart and other senior officials in the Biden administration to discuss pending transactions.

In addition, VVIPS is awaiting the delivery of a USD 189 Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure, a missile defence system for large aircraft. The Integrated Air Defence Weapon System (IADWS), a USD 1.867 billion agreement, has yet to materialise. The previous US administration has previously approved its sale to India.

Communications Security Account and Equipment is a deal for an estimated USD 5 million. A seemingly insignificant transaction is a critical component for improving interoperability and promoting communication.

Option of Leasing

Since the Indian armed services are open to leasing military platforms to satisfy urgent needs, this would be discussed with the US side on Monday as well.

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