India is pushing hard for the US government to give its nod to the sale of the Predator ‘Guardian’ unmanned aircraft before the current administration bows out.
Highly-placed sources told FE, “When defence minister Manohar Parrikar met with the US defence secretary Ashton Carter recently, the sale of the Predator ‘Guardian’ aircraft was discussed keeping in mind India’s maritime security and China’s advances in the Indian Ocean.”
An initiative taken by Prime minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack President Obama to ensure security of the seas has gained significant momentum as the vice chief of navy had accompanied the defence minister for these discussions.
Both sides had inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and various issues discussed included the strengthening of operational ties, follow-on foundational agreements like CISMOA (Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement), and BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement), Make in India initiatives, and the acquisition of key critical technologies that are in the common interests of both governments for strategic reasons.
US-based General Atomics-built EMALS as well as Guardian unmanned aircraft are cutting-edge technologies that can help both countries with their common maritime security objectives. Vivek Lall, a high-profile US corporate leader, currently with General Atomics, has played a crucial role in US and India strategic defence ties for the last decade.
In the joint statement, Carter and Parrikar discussed cooperation on capabilities to augment India’s capacity for maritime domain awareness (MDA). Acknowledging India’s positive contributions to regional security and stability, including in matters beyond the maritime space, the two countries announced their agreement to further consultations in this area. Both Parrikar and Carter have been instrumental in promoting security and stability.
Of all the defence initiatives of the Obama-Modi diplomacy, clearly one of the most successful ones have been the strategic partnering in the maritime domain.
India has sent an official letter of request to the US government for an initial purchase of 22 Guardian unmanned aircraft following Prime Minister Modi’s trip to US in the summer. “The two leaders who met on the sidelines of the G20 summit in China on Sunday, reviewed the the defence relations between the two countries as well as the defence trade,” said highly-placed sources.