The second 2+2 Indo-US Ministerial Dialogue is expected to take place in Washington DC next month, preparations for which are going on. Top sources have told Financial Express s Online, “We are in the process of being finalised, it will take place early December and this time the venue is in Washington DC. Accompanied by a high-level official delegation defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar will meet their counterparts to discuss enhancing military cooperation and trade as well as global issues of mutual interests.”
It is also understood that President Donald Trump is planning a visit to India in 2020 based on an invitation of Prime Minister Modi recently on his visit to Houston and New York. “There has been speculation around a visit for India’s Republic Day; however plans for a trip have not been finalized. And most likely during the Dialogue, this too will be discussed,” sources added.
The two countries are looking to expand trade ties and in this context the Industrial Security Annex agreement is expected to be announced at the 2+2 Dialogue and also Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Framework for DTTI.
At a recently concluded 9th DTTI Group meeting between Subhash Chandra, Secretary, Defence Production, Ministry of Defence and from the US Department of Defence Ms Ellen M Lord, Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment, potential new DTTI projects have been identified.
The two countries have concluded over $18 billion dollars in defence trade and due to major orders from India, thousands of jobs in the defence sector have been created in the US. And, now, expectations are high that the next few years will see a multiple fold increase in trade between both countries.
Indo-US Military Trade
Sources indicate near term government to government contracts that are expected to be concluded include 24 Lockheed Martin MH60R anti-submarine warfare helicopters for Indian Navy, as well as 30 General Atomics armed drones for all three services. Another potential project in the near term is a reorder for 6 more Boeing Apaches to be used by the Indian Army.
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The delivery of 15 multi-mission heavy-lift CH 4 Chinook transport helicopters and also 22 AH 64E (I) Apache helicopters has already started. US aerospace major Boeing Company has so far already delivered eight Apaches which when armed with Hellfire air-to-surface missiles will enhance the anti-tank capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Besides the 145 M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers of US-based BAE Systems, the Indian Army is going to import American company SIG Sauer’s SiG 716 for the Indian Army’s procurement of 72,000 new automatic rifles through the fast track route.
For the IAF’s 114 fighter aircraft requirement, Boeing Company’s F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-21 are competing with the French Rafale and Russian model.
US Delegation for DefExpo 2020
Recently the US India Business Council declared a high level US executive delegation to Lucknow for Defexpo in February headed by Dr Vivek Lall considered the father of US India defence trade in the last couple of decades.
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As has been reported earlier, earlier this year for the Aero-India 2019, the largest ever US Defence delegation was headed by Dr Vivek Lall of Lockheed Martin where the India unique F21 fighter aircraft was announced. In Lucknow, it is expected that Prime Minister Modi, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will be present. Expectations are high for building significant collaboration between industry partners for supply chains globally.
Defence Agreements between the two countries
Both countries have inked several agreements including the foundational agreement for mutual logistics support, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA); Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA). There has been some progress made in the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) which has cleared the way for major induction of state of the art American equipment.