With India and the US all set to renew their defence framework agreement for another 10 years, defence trade between the two nations is likely to grow in leaps and bounds, US experts have said.
A top US lawmaker also asserted that defence is going to be the key part of the India US strategic relationship.
“India today is not only a key player in South Asia, but a key player in the world. There are enormous opportunities for the United States and India to work closer together on a whole variety of national security issues,” Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, told the defence writers group early this week.
Thornberry, who visited India a few years ago including the places that were attacked by LeT terrorists in Mumbai in 2008, said defence is going to be a key element in ties.
“There are a whole lot of opportunities on things that we can do together,” he said.
“I see US in their defence trade as essentially growing by leaps and bounds in years to come because the Indians have finally discovered that US military technology is second to none,” Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said.
India, he said, is slowly overcoming the vestiges of suspicion about the reliability of US military hardware.
In the last 10 years, India US bilateral defence trade has increased from almost none to USD 10 billion.
With India headed for modernisation of its defence forces running into several hundred billion dollars, US companies are targeting a major pie of that.
Richard Fontaine, president of the Centre for a New American Security, said renewing the 2005 defence framework agreement, which expires this year,Â will provide an opportunity for the US and India to reiterate their commitment to security cooperation, including with a defence co-production initiative and possibly Indiaâ€™s approval of stalled agreements on logistics and communications.
The US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) has the potential to transform bilateral relations and needs nurturing, said Vivek Lall, chief executive, US and International Commercial Strategic Development of the General Atomics Electromagnetics.
“Co-production implies a paradigm shift for both countries and officials on both sides need to work together and ensure that the DTTI becomes the catalyst of enhanced cooperation between the two countries,” Lall said.
The DTTI represents a commitment from the US side to building an indigenous Indian industrial base by pre-screening projects for co-production.
“This will lead to industrial integration and interdependence which will strengthen the foundation for an enduring US-India security relationship,” he said.
Alyssa Ayres of the Council for Foreign Relations, said some of the defence cooperation that’s occurred between the US and India over the course of the last decade has been focused on finding ways to work more closely together, and better together, in a maritime sense.