In the run-up to US President Barack Obama’s two day trip to the Capital in January, Washington is sending a nine-member delegation headed by Puneet Talwar, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs in December to finalise a set of “transformative defence technologies” for India under the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI).
Talwar will be in Delhi between December 1-4. South Block officials say India is interested in long-duration unmanned aerial vehicles like Northrop Grumman’s Global Hawk, which can scan 100,000 sq km area in a day and has an endurance of 28 hours.
The plan is to use these UAVs for monitoring the 3,488km Line of Actual Control (LAC) with the Tibetan Autonomous Region of China. India wants the technology to produce the Ottawa Protocol compliant landmines that are used only on military vehicles and not used to target humans.
While the DTTI was launched last year under the UPA regime, the initiative is mired in red-tape as South Block is yet to identify the technologies that it wants through the government to government route instead of the usual Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) way. Talwar, accompanied by two deputy assistant secretaries of state and foreign policy advisor to US Pacific Command, will prepare the ground work for the visit of Frank Kendall, US under secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, on February 26 for a possible agreement.
Concerned at the bureaucratic delay, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked the defence ministry to ask the three armed forces and DRDO to submit a wish list of two technologies each so that at least two defence items could be finalised under the DTTI route by end-2014.
Although both sides short-listed 17 technologies for transfer, co-development or production, the list was cut to five items due to delay in licences from Pentagon. It was perhaps on account of this confusion that Kendall had to postpone his November 21 visit to India.