India and US Agree on Defence Industry Cooperation Roadmap

India and the United States have finalized a roadmap for defence industry cooperation, aiming to strengthen New Delhi’s defence manufacturing ambitions, according to the Indian government. This agreement comes just weeks before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s official state visit to Washington, where he is scheduled to hold talks with President Joe Biden.

The roadmap was established during a meeting between US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Monday. The discussions focused on enhancing industrial cooperation between the two nations. The objective is to identify opportunities for co-development and co-production of new and existing defence systems, as well as to facilitate collaboration between defence start-ups in both countries. The roadmap will serve as a policy guide for the next few years in promoting US-India Defence Industrial Cooperation.

The United States aims to strengthen its ties with India, the largest arms importer globally, viewing closer military-to-military and technology cooperation as crucial in balancing China’s influence in the region.

India, traditionally reliant on Russia for approximately half of its military supplies, has been diversifying its sources and increasingly purchasing from countries like the US, France, and Israel. New Delhi also seeks partnerships with global defence manufacturers to establish local production capabilities for arms and military equipment, catering to domestic needs and potential exports.

One significant procurement India is considering is the purchase of 18 high-altitude, long-endurance armed drones from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc, valued between $1.5 billion to $2 billion. These drones are expected to be deployed along India’s border regions with China and Pakistan, as well as in the strategic Indian Ocean area.

Joint production and manufacturing discussions for combat aircraft engines, infantry combat vehicles, howitzers, and precision ordnance took place during last month’s meeting of the US-India Defence Policy Group in Washington, as reported by Indian media.

Over the years, US defence trade with India has experienced substantial growth, increasing from nearly zero in 2008 to over $20 billion in 2020. Notable purchases from the US include long-range maritime patrol aircraft, C-130 transport aircraft, missiles, and drones.

As both countries continue to deepen their defence ties, this roadmap for cooperation paves the way for further advancements in India’s defence industry and strengthens the strategic partnership between India and the United States.

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