NEW DELHI: In sync with their fast-expanding strategic ties, India and the US have resolved to strengthen defence technology cooperation by pursuing detailed planning and making measurable progress on several specific projects, officials said on Wednesday.
The two sides have firmed up an agreement for developing an air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle under the joint working group on air systems as part of the framework on Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
Ways to strengthen defence technology cooperation figured prominently at the 11th meeting of the DTTI Group that was held virtually on Tuesday, the officials said.
The meeting in the virtual format was co-chaired by Secretary (Defence Production) Raj Kumar and Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment from US Department of Defence Gregory Kausner.
“The co-chairs were also pleased to note that since the last DTTI Group meeting in September 2020, the first project agreement for the air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle under the joint working group air systems was signed which is a major accomplishment for DTTI,” the defence ministry said in a statement.
It said the two sides agreed on a revised statement of intent (SOI) that declares their intent “to strengthen our dialogue on defence technology cooperation by pursuing detailed planning and making measurable progress” on several specific DTTI projects.
The aim of the DTTI Group is to bring sustained leadership focus to the bilateral defence trade relationship and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of defence equipment.
Four joint working groups focused on land, naval, air and aircraft carrier technologies have been established under DTTI to promote mutually agreed projects within their domains.
The ministry said the groups reported to the co-chairs on ongoing activities and collaborative opportunities, including a number of near-term projects targeted for completion on priority.
The DTTI Group meetings are normally held twice a year, alternating between India and the US.
However, this DTTI meeting was held via video conferencing consecutively for a second time on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To further encourage US and Indian industries to develop niche technologies under the DTTI group, an expo of the Defence Industry Collaboration Forum (DICF) was organised virtually on Monday.
This forum offers an opportunity for Indian and US industries to be directly involved in DTTI and facilitates dialogue between government and industry on issues that impact industrial collaboration.
The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In June 2016, the US had designated India a “Major Defence Partner”.
The two countries have also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.
The two sides also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
In October last year, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties.
The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.