Sale of Guardian drones likely to top agenda during US defence secy Jim Mattis visit
The US government’s decision to supply Guardian drones, manufactured by General Atomics, is one of the major developments that has taken place after the US administration passed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) in December 2016india Updated: Sep 23, 2017 23:42 IST
The sale of US-made Guardian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and an American offer to build single-engine fighter planes in the country are likely to be the chief talking points during US defence secretary Jim Mattis’ three-day visit to India next week, sources said on Saturday.
The US government’s decision to supply Guardian drones, manufactured by General Atomics, is one of the major developments that has taken place after the US administration passed the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) in December 2016 to strengthen defence and security cooperation with India. The deal for 22 such UAVs is expected to be worth $2 billion.
The Trump administration is supporting US military contractors exploring the possibility of setting up production lines for single and twin-engine fighter jets in India. US aerospace firm Lockheed Martin is eyeing a project to build F-16 warplanes in the country.
Mattis’ visit will be the first Cabinet-level visit to India under the Trump administration. Mattis will meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, national security adviser Ajit Doval and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman during thevisit.
“The secretary will emphasise that the United States views India as a valued and influential partner, with broad mutual interests extending well beyond South Asia,” the US department of defense said in a release.
“The secretary will also express US appreciation for India's important contributions toward Afghanistan's democracy, stability, prosperity, and security.”
At $15 billion, military purchases from the US have consumed more than a fourth of the total capital expenditure for the last decade. Since 2008, India has bought or ordered military equipment worth $15 billion from the US, including C-130J special operations planes, C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I submarine hunter planes, Harpoon missiles, Apache and Chinook helicopters and M777 lightweight howitzers.
The US government in a July report to the Congress said it is creating new positions in the DoD to strengthen military ties with India. Two new under secretary level posts will come up by February 2018 to steer the defence technology and trade initiative (DTTI) that seeks to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to cooperation and identify opportunities for sharing of defence technologies.