US and India to boost defence and technology cooperation

US company to develop jet engines, military munitions technology in India: Washington looks to build up maritime security, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities: US to train Indian astronauts

By: News Desk
Published: 09:09 AM, 2 Feb, 2023
US and India to boost defence and technology cooperation
Caption: National Security Adviser Ajit Doval along with Indian Ambassador to the United States Taranjit Singh Sandhu meets General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Washington.
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The United States and India in a major move are taking steps to bolster their defence partnership, the latest sign of cooperation between the two countries in the face of an increasingly assertive China, reported CNN and Indian media on Thursday.

The plans emerged following two days of meetings in Washington between government and business officials from the two countries and include greater collaboration on military-related industries and operational coordination in the Indo-Pacific.

Key among them are cooperation on developing jet engines and military munitions technology, according to a White House fact sheet. Specifically, it said the US government would look to expedite a review of an application by US manufacturer General Electric to build jet engines in India for use on indigenous Indian aircraft.

Operationally, the US and Indian militaries would look to build up maritime security and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the fact sheet said.

US Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks told Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval that “building alliances and partnerships are a top priority” for the Pentagon, in what she said was “the region’s increasingly contested strategic environment,” according to a Defence Department statement.

Hicks said building the partnerships was a major objective of the US’ 2022 National Defence Strategy, which calls China a “growing multi-domain threat.”

While the US has seen China building up its military forces in areas near Taiwan and key US ally Japan, India’s forces have clashed with Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control, the ill-defined border between the two nations high in the Himalayas.

The US and India, along with Japan and Australia, are members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – known as the Quad – an informal group focused on security that dates back to the early 2000s. It has become more active in recent years as part of efforts to counter China’s reach and territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific.

On the sidelines of a Quad summit in Tokyo last May, US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET).

The meetings this week were the first under the scheme and brought together dozens of government officials, industry CEOs and senior academics from both countries.

In addition to defense technologies, Washington and New Delhi would work to “expand international collaboration in a range of areas — including artificial intelligence, quantum technologies, and advanced wireless,” the White House fact sheet said.Enter your email to sign up for CNN's "Meanwhile in China" Newsletter.

A major industrial part of the meetings was an agreement to develop the semiconductor industry in India, which has the educated and skilled workforce needed to become a major player in building those key components.

Additionally, the two countries pledged to help develop next generation telecommunications in India, including 5G and 6G advanced cell phone technologies.

Washington and New Delhi also agreed to enhance cooperation in space, including helping India develop astronauts, its commercial space sector and role in planetary defence.

The US will provide advanced training for an Indian astronaut and the two countries will cooperate on planetary defence against dangerous asteroids and comets, according to the White House.

Strengthening cooperation in human space flight through an exchange that includes advanced training for an Indian astronaut at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, was among the initiatives launched at the inaugural meeting of the US-India initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) in Washington on Tuesday, the White House said.

National Security Advisers (NSA) Ajit Doval of India and Jake Sullivan of the US led the iCET meeting at which space, scientific, defence and commerce officials participated.

Another initiative at the iCET meeting was to include planetary defence in the agenda of the US-India Civil Space Joint Working Group (CSJWG), according to the White House.

The US planetary defence programme monitors asteroids and comets to identify those that can potentially cause harm to the earth and issue warnings and develop actions to mitigate their effect.

Cooperation with the US on manned space flight would be a departure for India, which has so far relied on the Soviet Union and, after its dissolution, with Russia.

India, which plans to send astronauts as early as next year on board the Gaganyaan spacecraft, has been training four astronauts in Russia under an agreement with that country’s Glavkosmos organisation.

While astronauts from several countries, including Saudi Arabia, have flown on NASA space missions, none from India have.

The only Indian citizen to have been in outer space is Rakesh Sharma, a former Air Force pilot who flew on a Soviet Soyuz mission in 1984.

Other initiatives from the iCET meeting, according to the White House, include strengthening bilateral commercial space partnerships through the US Commerce Department and the Indian Department of Space.

Earlier, Indian and US space officials held two days of discussions on several areas of cooperation at a two-day meeting of the CSJWG on Monday and Tuesday covered collaboration in human space flights, Earth and space science as well as global navigation satellite systems, spaceflight safety and space situational awareness, and policies for commercial space activities, according to the State Department.

The meeting was co-chaired by Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jennifer Littlejohn and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Associate Administrator Karen Feldstein on the US side and by Shantanu Bhatawdekar, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Scientific Secretary on the Indian side.

A highlight of the NASA-ISRO cooperation is the Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission, planned for next year.

It is expected to systematically map Earth, using two different radar frequencies to monitor resources such as water, forests and agriculture.

It will provide information about ecosystems, the Earth’s surface, natural hazards, sea level rise and the cryosphere, the frozen parts of the earth, with applications in forestry, agriculture and ecology.

According to NASA, it will also help with providing prompt responses to natural and human-created disasters.

NASA head Bill Nelson and Executive Secretary of the National Space Council Chirag Parikh gave the welcoming remarks for the meeting and ISRO Chairman S Somanath and Taranjit Singh Sandhu spoke.

While no Indian citizen has been on US space missions, four Indian-Americans have.

Those who flew on NASA missions are Kalpana Chawla, who died in the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003, Sunita Williams and Raja Chari.

Sirisha Bandla flew on a very brief private-sector Virgin Galactic test flight in 2021.

Categories : South Asia