India on Saturday said Japan would take part in the India-US Malabar naval exercises on a regular basis to deal with maritime challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.
In a major boost to Indo-Japan ties, the two countries also signed a pact regarding the transfer of defence equipment and technology after the annual summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe.
“They reaffirmed their commitment to continue discussions to deepen the bilateral defence relationship including through two-way collaboration and technology cooperation, co-development and co-production,” the joint statement issued after the summit said.
Both sides also expressed their “intention to explore potential future projects on defence equipment and technology cooperation such as US-2 amphibian aircraft”.
India and Japan have been holding talks for two years on the purchase by India of US-2 amphibious aircraft made by ShinMaywa Industries, which would be one of Japan’s first arms sales since Abe lifted a 50-year ban on weapon exports.
Foreign secretary S Jaishankar said a purchase of US-2 was discussed in Saturday’s meeting and the “matter remains under consideration”
The two countries have set up a joint working group on the US-2 STOL (short takeoff and landing) search and rescue amphibian and talks are in an advanced stage, defence ministry sources said.