U.S. Offers Four New Defense Projects to India

 - January 29, 2015, 7:32 AM
President Obama and Prime Minister Modi discussed deepening the defense relationship between the two countries. (Photo: Prime Minister Office, India)

The U.S. extended the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) signed with India in 2005 by another decade, to 2025. The move came during this week’s visit to India by President Obama, the first U.S. president to be chief guest for India’s 66th Republic Day celebrations. He was accompanied by a large defense-related delegation. The visit came barely a week after Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu was in the country for the 14th meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Technical Cooperation.

The DTTI covers potential partnership in U.S.-India military-industrial matters. From a list about 17 technologies permitted for transfer, the two sides have identified four "Pathfinder projects” for co-development and co-production. They are the AeroVironment RQ-11 Raven B UAV; roll-on roll-off cargo modules for disaster-relief operations worldwide by Lockheed Martin C-130Js, to be designed by an inter-university competition; the General Atomics Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System for India’s second indigenous aircraft carrier, and hot section jet engine technology for unspecified projects led by India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation. The U.S. also offered the Javelin next-generation Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) for co-development and manufacture under the DTTI. But India rejected the offer in favor of Rafael’s Spike ATGM.

The four pathfinder projects assume added importance even though technology offered with the lightweight UAV is basic. There is an indigenous counterpart. “We can match the Raven in terms of technology,” Avdhesh Khaitan, CEO and founder of Kadet Defense Systems told AIN. “This [Raven] is a model plane turned into a UAV…the move will scuttle the innovation efforts of the Indian small and medium industries that the government says it wants to promote.” He added: “Why doesn’t AeroVironment offer its Switchblade tactical missile system instead? This will bring technology into the country.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the dedicated rapid reaction team focused exclusively on advancing the DTTI by the U.S. Deptartment of Defense along with India’s MoD would identify more joint projects in the future. In a statement, the U.S. noted that “by establishing a new military education partnership, we will help shape the next generation of military leaders in both our nations, fostering relationships that will draw our defense establishments closer together for years to come.” The U.S. also stated its intention to support India's membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Wassenaar arrangement and the Australia Group.