Rebooting Indo-US relations
BJP-led government in India and especially Narendra Modi being at the helm of affairs. The signals emanating from the US government clearly reflect their desire to shed the baggage of the past and move forward. This spirit is encapsulated in the words of Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Nisha Desai Biswal who stated, “We will focus on shared prosperity and strategic convergence – more specifically, how partnership between the US and India can make our countries and the entire global order more prosperous and more secure.”
While John Kerry generated the right political vibes, what was totally absent in the interaction at different levels was the need to foster the relationship between the two nations in the regime of defence. This is an area in which while there has been significant interaction, there is the need and scope for much more. In the last few years, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been able to acquire through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Programme of the US government, three Boeing Business Jets for VVIP travel, six C-130J Super Hercules military transport aircraft and ten C-17 Globemaster III strategic airlift aircraft. Orders for six more C-130J Super Hercules aircraft have already been placed and in due course, the IAF may place orders for another six of the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. Meanwhile, the Indian Navy is in the process of inducting eight P8I long range maritime patrol aircraft that have begun arriving and may place orders for another four such platforms. All the procurements listed above have been executed in record time.
Apart from the procurements listed above, there are a number of other procurements in the pipeline. These include 22 AH-64D Apache Attack Helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, both from Boeing. The Indian Army too is looking forward to inducting the M-777 artillery and a fleet of Apache helicopters. And of course the IAF would welcome the opportunity to graduate to technology of fifth generation and beyond through strategic partnership with the US, a privilege not available so far.
While the representatives of the Indian government negotiate with their counterparts from the US to put bilateral relations between the two nations on even keel, they need to bear in mind that the stake of the Indian Armed Forces in the achievement of this objective is very high.
The US Secretary of State, John Kerry and the US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker calling on the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi. The Union Minister for External Affairs and Overseas Indian Affairs Sushma Swaraj is also seen.