New Delhi, Sept. 18: The US has offered to refashion defence relations with India, suggesting a start with the setting up of a joint venture to co-produce anti-tank guided missiles modelled on the India-Russia co-production for the Brahmos missile.
The US is also keen to sell to India excess military equipment from its war machinery in Afghanistan as the troops drawdown begins. The excess equipment is also on offer to Pakistan and any other country willing to buy them.
Washington is backing a proposal for a joint venture between US defence major Raytheon and Indian public-sector firm Bharat Dynamics, but New Delhi is yet to take a call. US deputy defence secretary Ashton B. Carter, who met national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon and defence secretary R.K. Mathur here yesterday, has conveyed the proposal.
Carter said a tie-up had also been proposed between US and Indian defence researchers. He said his government would “incentivise” this with priority funding. The US has such arrangements only with the UK and Australia.
Carter said that his visit just days before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to meet President Barack Obama in the US “reflects that India and the US are destined to be security partners”.
Washington has also indicated that it has made changes to its policy on high-technology exports to favour India exceptionally. This would give India an assurance on transfer of technology before entering into licence-production agreements.
Piloting the new offers from the US on defence trade and technology relationships is a proposal for co-production of a futuristic Javelin anti-tank guided missile. Carter acknowledged that an older proposal “was a long but not a happy history because it did not have the desire from India on co-production and co-development”.
The new proposal was being made to no other country but to India, said Carter, for the co-development of the “next generation” of Javelin missiles for domestic consumption as well as for international buyers (exports).
He agreed that “this entirely new proposal” had a parallel with the India-Russia Brahmos supersonic cruise missile project that is New Delhi’s largest foreign joint venture in the defence sector.
“This is the new wave for US and India. We do not have the kind of history that Russia has (with India). Our (Indian and US) systems have been segregated for a long time and it is now time for them to mesh because that is our destiny,” said Carter.
Russia is India’s oldest and largest supplier of military hardware.
“The newness of what we are trying to do is challenging the reluctance of our bureaucracies,” Carter replied when asked if India would still be required to sign fundamental defence agreements with the US like the Cismoa (Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement) and the Logistics Support Agreement.
“We are working around them but we cannot ignore them (because) they are required under US law,” he said.
Carter, who was in Afghanistan and Pakistan before visiting New Delhi, said in his talks with Indian officials they had also noted concerns around Pakistan where a new government has taken over.