The proposed sale is expected to improve India's capability to deter regional threats with the SPS facilitating a more robust capability into areas of increased missile threats.
Encouraged by the growing India-US relations especially in the defence and strategic areas, the US State Department has approved sale of two Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Self Protection Suites (SPS) for Boeing aircraft, worth $190 million, to be used in India.
The US Department of Defense’s DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) has been asked by the State Department to issue the required certificate notifying the US Congress about the sale. As per the procedure, once the Senate gives its approval, the deal will enter into the negotiation stage and then the sale will be concluded. The prime contractor under the deal will be Boeing Company, based in Oklahama.
According to officials, once the 30 day Congressional notification period is over, the sale can be completed when the customer chooses.
Washington has already recognised India as a “Major Defense Partner”, a status that which commits the US to facilitate technology sharing with India and is also the second-largest arms supplier to India.
According to an official statement the DSCA said, “The Government of India has requested to buy two (2) Self-Protection Suites (SPS) consisting of AN/AAQ 24(V) N Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM), ALQ-211(V) 8 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS), and AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (CMDS) to protect two (2) Boeing-777 Head-of-State aircraft.”
DSCA said that the “proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship” and to “improve the security of a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region.”
The proposed sale is expected to improve India’s capability to deter regional threats with the SPS facilitating a more robust capability into areas of increased missile threats.
The sale will include 12 Guardian Laser Transmitter Assemblies (6 installed and 6 spares), 8 LAIRCM System Processor Replacements (2 installed and 6 spares, 23 Missile Warning Sensors (12 installed and 11 spares), 5 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (2 installed and 3 spares). The US has also assured that the sale will not “alter the basic military balance in the region. Pentagon’s Missile defense review (MDR) 2019 had said the US has been discussing “potential missile defense cooperation” with India.
According to the US State Dept, two Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Self Protection Suites (SPS) is installed on aircraft to protect them against missiles. The system detects incoming threats then dispenses flares to distract a missile’s sensors.
As reported earlier, several top Pentagon officials along with US industry executives will be travelling to Bengaluru Feb 20 – 24 for Aero India 2019 event to showcase strong US government interest.
Last year, both countries had their first ever US-India “2+2” dialogue in New Delhi where on the sidelines of the meeting the COMCASA, a landmark military communications and security pact was signed. Besides the Indo-Pacific region, the air force to air force relationships is another hallmark of strategic ties and trust between nations.
The two countries have already inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 and the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002. The LEMOA agreement allows the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply, a step toward building defence relations.
As Chinese influence continues to grow in the Asian region countries are beefing up their partnerships and alliances to handle potential future threats. The US can play a critical role in the region if it offers its latest technologies to India for the long term.
In 2018, US granted India Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1). India is the only south asian country to get STA1 and 3rd Asian country after Japan and South Korea. The status eases defence procurement from the US. Last year during the 2+2 dialogue, India and US signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) which will help New Delhi get access to advanced US defense systems and enable it to utilize its existing US-origin platforms.