India-US partnership on sound footing
With the Narendra Modi Government coming to power in 2014, the bilateral and strategic relationship with the United States of America has got transformed into a dynamic one with increased engagements at not just the government level but also at the industry level. In the area of defence, there is renewed enthusiasm on the part of the US companies. They believe that they could help India in its quest of becoming not only an indigenous defence equipment producing country but also being capable of exporting. There seems to be lot more willingness on the part of the US companies to transfer technology and make the Prime Minister’s initiative come true.
In continuation of that partnership, the Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar will be visiting the United States next month to build on the already deep engagement between the two sides in defence and strategic arena. It is significant that the visit has been scheduled within six months of the visit to New Delhi of the US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in June this year during which the path for long-term defence and strategic partnership between the two largest democracies had already been cleared. Parrikar’s visit is expected to propel the Indo-US relationship to a new level.
The visit is taking place on the back of reported US decision to sell F-16s and Bell AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan. This US decision has irked India as it intends to rearm India’s arch rival with sophisticated military aircraft which certainly are not meant for use against terrorists or the Taliban. US arms supplied to Pakistan have always been used against India and once again the Pakistani army has been successful in blackmailing the US leaders, writes Ranjeet Kumar.
According to the latest US Congressional Report, the Pentagon has cleared military hardware worth $5.4 billion after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the US Defense Headquarters in Washington DC and the World Trade Center in New York. This includes the sophisticated F-16 fighters. Interestingly, the military hardware were supplied to Pakistan in the 10-year framework, for which the logic given was that Islamabad needs capacity building to fight terrorists in its border areas.
US thus is engaging both the nations differently. For the US companies India is a huge market. US aerospace and defence behemoth, Boeing is consolidating its relationship with India, having been the country’s partner in progress for nearly 70 years now. The recent wins by Boeing in India – for 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy-lift helicopters – have put the arc lights on the US major.
Similarly Thales is looking at more engagement with India. Patrick Mallon, Chief Technologist and Senior Thales Expert of Missile Systems, in an interview has talked about the company’s ‘Go to India’ approach. Thales has been cooperating with the Indian private sector particularly large corporate players and SMEs to build transfer of technology and supply chain partnerships.
Meanwhile, WASS has pointed out that the government should honour the approved tenders and ensure that ‘Make in India’ is truly ‘Make in India’ and not backdoor entry of players who have lost out on tenders.
There is a lot to think about. Happy reading!