India and the US will bring to the table heaps of unfinished defence business — ranging from outstanding military agreements to expanding US military aid to Pakistan to discussions on possible weapons sales — during President Barack Obama's first visit to the country.
The defence ministry may have ruled out the likelihood of any side pulling off a coup, but both India and the US will find themselves locked in intense negotiations to resolve long-pending issues and make sure defence cooperation is on a fast growth trajectory.
India is expected to voice concerns over expanding US military aid to Pakistan in the form of the latest F-16 fighter jets, missiles, laser-guided bomb kits and surveillance drones, ostensibly to support Pakistani forces engaged in counter-insurgency.
The US has just announced a $2 billion (Rs 9,000 crore) military package for Pakistan spread over the next five years. New Delhi insists Pakistan is misusing the aid for shoring up its military capabilities against India in the guise of fighting terrorism. "We want the US to address these concerns. This issue will definitely figure in the talks," a defence ministry source said.
Obama’s visit will see the US making a renewed pitch for completing all outstanding military agreements with India, including proposals to safeguard American defence technologies transferred to New Delhi, share geospatial data and guarantee each other logistics support.
On the table
India will be buying four more P8I planes for $1 billion (Rs 4,500 crore). It also ordered six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the US for $1 billion (Rs 4,500 crore) in 2008.
Talks are in final stages for buying 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft worth $5.8 billion (Rs 26,100 crore).
Team Obama will also be batting for US aerospace and defence giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin who are locked in competition with European and Russian rivals eyeing the $10.2 billion (Rs 45,900 crore) contract to supply 126 fighter planes to the Indian Air Force.
US law lays down that sensitive technologies can be transferred to another country only after signing the CISMOA (Communications, Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement) to protect classified security data.
India has to sign the CISMOA if the American platforms it is buying have to come with hi-tech systems used for collecting and disseminating information. Such platforms come equipped with C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) systems, which can be transferred only if such an agreement is in place.
It also ordered six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the US for $1 billion (Rs 4,500 crore) in 2008. Talks are in final stages for buying 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft worth $5.8 billion (Rs 26,100 crore).
The US is also pitching for the pending Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement to facilitate sharing of geospatial data and the Logistics Support Agreement. Under the LSA, the two countries will have to guarantee each other logistics support, refuelling and berthing facilities for their warships and fighters, spares and sundry services on a reimbursable or equal value exchange basis.
India, however, has made it clear more negotiations are required to resolve areas of differences.