High-value technologies cooperation on the anvil: US Deputy Defense Secretary
[By Sucheta Das Mohapatra]
Only a month after the successful visit of US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to India, the Deputy Secretary, US Department of Defense, Ashton B. Carter was on a threeday visit to the country to strengthen defence ties between the two counties. Addressing an interactive session on “US-India Defence Cooperation: The Way Forward” organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi, Carter said the US wants to develop a joint vision for the US-India defence cooperation.
“We want to get to a place where we continuously discover new opportunities to make innovative investments that benefit both countries for generations. The only limit to our cooperation should be our independent strategic decisions and not bureaucratic red tape. The relationship has come a long way in the past decade. Our goal is to make it even stronger. We need to define where we want to go, and then make it possible to get there.”
He further said that the US wants to knock down all bureaucratic hurdles that come in the way of defence cooperation. “Secretary Panetta and I are committed to reforming the Department of Defense’s internal processes. India has been very frank in expressing its concerns with US export controls and technology security policies. We are taking real steps to address India’s concerns.”
India’s stand that it is no more interested in a ‘buyer-seller’ relationship with US and wants more in the form of transfer of technology (ToT), reflected in Carter’s words who emphasised on the jargon ‘defence cooperation’, while Panetta used ‘defence trade’. “It is an evolution in our understanding of the point,” said Carter.
“Our partnership with India is a key part of our rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region. You are an economic power with an increasing military capability; and your leadership in civil discourse and democracy is critical to the political stability of South Asia. Our military-to-military engagement has increased steadily over the years, to include a robust set of dialogues, exercises, defence trade, and research cooperation.”
On being asked by Jayant Baranwal, Editor-in-Chief, SP’s M.A.I. about India’s concern about transfer of old technology from the US, Carter said that it was true in the past but not in the future. “We can share technology with India to the greatest possible extent. It is a relationship of trust and defence cooperation is the principle reason for my visit.” Earlier during his speech, Carter said, “In the Cold War, the US bureaucracy was designed to protect a wide swath of technology. With the commercialisation of the global marketplace, we now recognise that defence technology controls should be more focused. We want to cooperate with you on high-value technologies.” Likewise, on the query about sale of F-35s to India, the Deputy Secretary said that India has not asked for it yet.
To another question put by the Editor-in-Chief, SP’s M.A.I. on what high-end technologies India would be getting from the US, he said “all kinds of technologies”. Carter said that they want to move beyond defence trade, towards cooperative research and development and co-production with India. “We have moved DRDO and ISRO off the Commerce Department Entity List. We can conduct research and co-develop technologies together—like batteries, and micro-UAVs.
“India was our second largest FMS customer in 2011, with $4.5 billion in total foreign military sales (FMS) and we delivered six C-130Js on time. We think our defence technology is the best quality on the market. Whether through direct commercial sales (DCS) or FMS, India will get exceptionally high-quality technology and there would be a high degree of transparency.”
Giving his introductory remarks, Dr V. Sumantran, Chairman, CII National Defence Council and Vice Chairman, Ashok Leyland, said that we can have a similar and promising relationship with the US as we have been having with Russia. “The US should also ease restrictions on ToT to India, keeping in mind India’s history of nonproliferation,” he said. Along with a raise of foreign direct investment from 26 per cent to 49 per cent in India, the US Government should also encourage US companies to participate in FMS. He also reiterated India’s stand that the buyer-seller relationship is not sustainable in the long-term and there should be focus on cooperation.
Besides meeting with Indian officials, Carter also visited Tata Advanced Systems Limited and Lockheed Martin joint venture in Hyderabad, where parts for the C-130J will be manufactured soon. “From now on, every C-130J around the world will contain parts made in Hyderabad,” said Carter.
Carter tours a Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. facility in Hyderabad on July 24, 2012