Strengthening the Major Defence Partnership
India and the United States have resolved to make their defence partnership multifaceted
In the latest, the fifth in the series, India-U.S. 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue that was held in New Delhi on August 10 among Raksha Mantri, Shri Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar for India and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd J. Austin III for the US, considerable attention was devoted towards the defence and security cooperation between the countries, technology value chain collaborations and people-to-people ties.
The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to further deepen the multifaceted defence partnership through wide-ranging dialogues and military exercises of increasing complexity and sophistication, accelerated joint projects initiated under the June 2023 Roadmap for India-U.S. Defence Industrial Cooperation and expanded collaboration in emerging domains, such as space and artificial intelligence. They expressed satisfaction with the pace of cooperation in Maritime Domain Awareness and looked forward to identifying pathways to promote stronger service-to-service ties and share technologies to address an array of maritime challenges, including in the undersea domain.
The Ministers reaffirmed “the Roadmap for Defence Industrial Cooperation” as a catalyst for strengthening India’s capabilities, enhancing its indigenous defence production, facilitating technology-sharing, and promoting supply chain resilience.
The Ministers accordingly appreciated the commencement of negotiations for a commercial agreement between General Electric (GE) Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India.
Such partnerships exemplify the type of defence industrial cooperation that the two countries look forward to pursuing as an enduring pillar of the defence partnership. Looking ahead, the Ministers welcomed the progress achieved towards co-production and co-development of defence systems, noting their mutual interest to co-develop and co-produce ground mobility systems, as they bring the two countries’ respective defence sectors closer together while enhancing Indian capabilities.
Both sides recommitted to spurring investment in India’s growing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector, which encompasses aircraft maintenance and mid-voyage repair of U.S. naval vessels. They welcomed commitments from the U.S. industry to further increase India’s MRO capabilities, including for the repair of aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Ministers also pledged to implement commitments by Prime Minister Modi and President Biden to undertake regular efforts to address export control issues while expanding defence industrial cooperation and supporting India’s goals of emerging as a global defence hub. Both sides look forward to further discussions about export control and technology transfers in the Strategic Trade Dialogue and its affiliated working groups.
The Ministers looked forward to the finalisation of a Security of Supply Arrangement (SOSA), a key priority in the Roadmap, which will further integrate the defence industrial ecosystems of both countries while strengthening supply chain resilience.
The Ministers commended the breadth of partnerships under the India-U.S. Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) since the initiative was launched in June 2023. The Ministers specifically welcomed the Investors Strategy Session convened in New Delhi on November 8, 2023. The event provided an opportunity for private investors to mobilize capital for funding innovation in cutting-edge technology to address critical security needs. The Ministers further welcomed the launch of the INDUS-X Gurukul Education series to enable startups to leverage opportunities in the defence ecosystems of India and the United States. The Ministers also took note of the recent launch of the INDUS-X joint challenges initiative, which will unleash the talent and innovative drive of commercial sectors in both countries to strengthen the respective defence industry ecosystems.
The Ministers lauded continuing advances in interoperability, noting that India and the United States are setting up new liaison positions to facilitate seamless communication and cooperation between their armed forces. The Ministers welcomed India’s full membership of the multinational Combined Maritime Forces (CMF), headquartered in Bahrain.
The Ministers also welcomed further discussions to maximize the shared benefits of the Logistics and Exchange Memorandum Agreement (LEMOA) and identify reciprocal steps both countries can take to enhance the reach of their respective militaries.
It may be noted that the INDUS-X Investors Meet on 8 November 2023 at New Delhi was the first -ever event that evinced the interest of the investors in the start-ups and MSMEs operating in the defence sector and the emerging opportunities under the INDUS-X initiative. The interactive meet brought all the stakeholders viz Startups/MSMEs, Investors, Incubators, Industry from both sides under one roof to discuss the collaborative agendas and opportunities thereon.
The event also had focused panel discussions with a select audience of 50 thought leaders, including start-ups, investors, government officials and business leaders from the defence industry. The panel discussed on ‘Investment Opportunities in the Defence Sector’, elaborating upon establishing a sustainable commercial foundation for defence collaboration and co-production.
In the Investor-Start-up Connect session, leading Indian and US investors, VCs and defence start-ups offered their insights regarding their plans for the defence sector and the expectations from each other. Select Indian and US startups also presented their profile and innovations to the marquee audience.
INDUS-X was launched in June 2023 during the State Visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the US to expand strategic technology partnership and defense industrial cooperation between governments, businesses, and academic institutions of India and US.
INDUS X will be a defence innovation bridge which would inter-alia include Joint Challenges, Joint Innovation Fund, Academia engagement, Industry-startup connect, investment by private entities in defence projects , mentoring by experts, niche technology projects etc.