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

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