New Delhi, Sept. 17: India and the US are in talks to discuss co-production of US-origin military hardware in addition to quickening sales of US-made howitzers and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, a source in the defence ministry said here today.
US deputy secretary for defence Ashton B. Carter is at present in New Delhi for talks with national security adviser Shivshankar Menon and defence secretary R.K. Mathur.
Last week, the defence acquisitions council (DAC) approved the purchase of six addition C-130J Hercules special forces aircraft ahead of the meeting of the India-US defence technology initiative.
The Indian Air Force has also selected the twin-rotor Chinook helicopters for its heavy-lift requirement. But the political nod for the purchase is still pending.
The Indian defence establishment has been urging the US and other major suppliers of military equipment, “to move away from a buyer-seller relationship to co-production arrangements”.
India has co-production agreements only with Russia (for the Brahmos missile and the fifth generation fighter aircraft) and with Israel (for a medium range surface-to-air missile).
Carter was last year appointed by then secretary for defence Leon Panetta to “clear the bureaucratic hurdles” for closer defence relations with India.
Soon before leaving Washington D.C. for his current visit, Carter had said: “What we’re doing is in the technology and export controls area, working so that India has the same status as our very closest allies and that our system is operating on a time scale that’s consistent with the needs for the Indian side to make decisions.”
In the current round of talks, the US and India are likely to be discussing a proposal to manufacture Javelin anti-tank guided missiles for which the Indian Army has projected a need.
The US is also looking to the sale of M777 ultra-light howitzers that the Indian Army has decided to buy in its first purchase of heavy artillery since the Bofors in the mid-1980s.
The talks between Carter and Menon are also taking place in the lead-up to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the US later this month.Carter, who reached New Delhi last night from on his tour that included visits to Afghanistan and Pakistan,, was also expected to brief Menon on the US “retrograde” — the pulling out of US military equipment from Afghanistan — and the security situation and its impact on the region.US forces are at present drawing down from Afghanistan to meet a 2014 deadline for the pullout.