India and the US are likely to renew a significant pact to deepen cooperation in several security-related areas and also hope to conclude talks on a clutch of projects dealing with co-production and co-development of weapon systems during President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit.
Defence minister Manohar Parrikar has hinted that the two countries are likely to sign a new 10-year defence framework agreement during Obama’s visit. The existing agreement, signed in June 2005, ends this year. It led to some major weapon sales to India, deepened military-to-military engagements, bolstered technical cooperation and strengthened the overall strategic partnership.
“The US has three or four projects relating to co-production and co-development of weapon systems in mind under the defence trade and technology initiative (DTTI). India is definitely hopeful that one or two will come to fruition by the time President Obama arrives,” an official source said.
One of these systems is C4ISR ‘roll on roll off’ capabilities for India’s US made C-130s transport aircraft. This would allow India to transport armoured vehicles and difficult cargo on the plane. There is an expectation of a helicopter announcement, possibly MHR maritime choppers. The US has offered more than 30 co-production and co-development projects with India under the DTTI.
India and the US had last year appointed high-ranking points persons to “co-develop and co-produce” state-of-the-art weapon systems to strengthen defence cooperation. India has assigned this task to secretary, department of defence production, while the US is represented by the under secretary for acquisition, technology and licensing at the Pentagon.
As reported by HT on December 26, India has asked the Pentagon for five key technologies, including advanced high-altitude UAVs and “hot engines” for its fighter jets.