After waiting for almost a decade for anti-submarine hunter helicopters, at the 2+2 Indo-US Ministerial Dialogue announcement related to the sale of 24 Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R helicopter for the Indian Navy is expected. These helicopters will help in countering China in the Indian Ocean region are going to replace the Sea King Mk 42B/C and Ka-28 helicopters currently in service.
The two sides are also expected to finally sign the Industrial Security Annex (ISA)
Financial Express Online was the first to break the news of the US State Department’s seal of approval for the sale of $ 2 billion MH-60R Multi-Mission helicopters for the Indian Navy through the Foreign Military Sale (FMS).
According to sources, “Announcement related to the anti-submarine helicopters for the Indian Navy is expected and the ISA will be signed.”
As has been first reported by the Financial Express Online earlier, once this agreement is inked it will allow the US companies to transfer critical defence technology to India.
Both sides are also working on the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) -Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which will help both sides to identify and develop cooperative projects. Set up in 2012, DTTI is an initiative which is for the co-production and co-development of military systems. However, no project to date has been done under this.
The two sides are going to talk about free and open Indo-Pacific region which is already going strong.
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During the bilateral discussions between the defence minister Rajnath Singh and US Defence Secretary Mark Esper, besides security and fight against terrorism, and joint and multilateral engagements, both sides will talk about the defence deals in the pipeline. Recently the Trump administration has given approval for thirteen MK 45 5 inch/62 calibre (MOD 4) naval guns for the Indian Navy and also for 3,500 D349 Projectile, 5”/54 MK 92 MOD 1 ammunition. These guns are for the P15A and P17A ships.
Both sides will also talk about the modalities to be made to the COMCASA agreement which was inked last year before it becomes operational.
2+2 Ministerial Dialogue
According to the official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar, “On December 18, the second India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue will be held in Washington, DC. The side will be led by defence minister Rajnath Singh, and External Affairs Minister, S Jaishankar and they will be meeting their US counterparts and will review foreign policy and defence and security issues in our relations.
This format of a dialogue between the two countries was started in September 2018 in an effort to provide a forward-looking vision for the India-US strategic partnership. The second round of Dialogue will take stock of the growing relations between the two countries.
US Defence Secretary Mark Esper will host his Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, at the Pentagon for a bilateral meeting, which will be followed by the 2+2 Dialogue at the State Department at the Foggy Bottom Headquarters. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will join the meeting there.
The two sides are also expected to discuss global issues of mutual interests including the growing unrest in the Middle East, as well as enhancing military cooperation, more joint and multi-lateral exercises, fight against global terrorism and the Indo-Pacific.
Artillery from the US for the Indian Army
In February this year, as was first reported here as part of its small arms modernisation the Indian Army had signed a contract for the procurement of 72,400 Assault Rifles through the Fast Track Procurement (FTP) from the US-based M/s Sig Sauer. Under this contract, the delivery is to be made over 12 months.
Last week the Indian Army received 10,000 rifles and 10,000 more will be received soon. The Indian Army will get total 66,400; Indian Navy 2,000 and IAF 4,000 along with accessories needed all through the FTP. These Assault Rifles will be used by the troops deployed along the 3,600 km long border with China and also in major operations in Jammu and Kashmir. These rifles are being manufactured at Sig Sauer’s New Hampshire facilities.
And will be replacing the Indian-made 5.56x45mm Insas rifles.
Two American companies are in the race for two different programmes –114 fighters for the Indian Air Force and 57 fighters for the Indian Navy. The Boeing Company’s F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-21 are pitching these machines.
The US has also offered Raytheon’s National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II which will help Indian airspace against aerial threats. This offer has been made by the US in an effort to counter Russia’s S-400 Triumf advanced air defence missile system.