A key committee of the US Senate has sought to bolster the defence partnership with India and take it to a new level through greater cooperation in intelligence collection, drones and fourth and fifth generation aircraft. The move by the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee comes a week after the House of Representatives passed a legislative amendment as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that waived off punitive CAATSA sanctions for India. NDAA is the annual budget of the United States. The House version of NDAA was passed last week.
The Senate Armed Services Committee released its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2023 On Wednesday. It includes a Section on “Enhancing the Major Defense Partnership with India” which envisages greater cooperation in intelligence collection, drones and fourth and fifth generation aircraft.It also includes depot-level maintenance, joint research and development, 5G and Open Radio Access Networks (RAN); cyber and cold-weather capabilities.
The Section also asks the defence secretary to explore other areas for expanding cooperation with India, including a description of the challenges, agreements, authorities that may be required, and also an articulation of security considerations including protection of research and development and intellectual property. Among other things, it also asks the defense secretary to identify opportunities for the private sector to work with the Ministry of Defense in India.
The US House of Representatives passed a legislative amendment last week that approves an India-specific waiver for punitive CAATSA sanctions for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia. Authored and introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, the amendment urges the Biden administration to use their authority to provide India with a Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) waiver to help deter aggressors like China.The legislative amendment was passed by voice vote as part of an en bloc (all together as a single unit) amendment during floor consideration of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA).
CAATSA is a tough US law that authorises the US administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.