Modi-Trump meet: India’s ‘major defence partner’ status to be put to test
While Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets with US President Donald Trump for the first time in Washington DC on Monday, healthy defense relations between the two countries are expected to spark discussions.
Key issues to be discussed include: Operationalizing the unique status of India as a “major defense partner” of America; The sale of $ 2 trillion of remotely piloted Guardian (RPV) vehicles to India; And the negotiation of a security agreement that would allow the United States to import communications equipment sensitive to India.
Officials on both sides are minimizing expectations of concrete results, given the unpredictability of Trump and Modi. “I do not see their encounter as driven by the need for” deliverables. “This will be the first time they feel face to face, and would do well to establish a personal bond to help them work cooperatively,” a source said.
As reported by the Business Standard on Saturday (‘There is no F-16 agreement during PM Modi’s visit to the US’) there will be no forward movement in Lockheed Martin’s proposal, an American aerospace aircraft, to build F-16 fighter jets Block 70 in India. Instead, as part of a multi-vendor acquisition, the Indian Ministry of Defense will process the F-16 bid in accordance with the 2016 Defense Procurement Procedure.
Great defense partner
Last December, in the twilight of Barack Obama’s administration, the US Congress passed an amendment titled “Enhancing Defense and Security Cooperation with India” to the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) United States Military.
The Indian amendment, which forms Section 1292 of the NDAA, designates India as “the principal defense partner” of the United States and requires the secretaries of defense and state to designate an official to manage co-operation -American. All US administrations must appoint an official who will report to Congress on the defense relationship for six months.
In April, US National Security Adviser General H R McMaster affirmed the new designation when he visited New Delhi. How trump and Modi operationalize the “major defense association” will be carefully observed, as it would signal the actual content of the relationship.
There is potential for conflict, given Trump’s concerns as jobs and visas. However, India’s need for modernization of defense could also create more jobs in the United States. For example, moving the F-16 integration line to India to build 100-200 fighters could allow US workers to continue manufacturing systems, avionics, engines and other parts in the United States.
Selling of drones Guardian
Washington and New Delhi are discussing the sale of 22 Guardian RPVs to India, which both sides could use to demonstrate the value of the association.
US officials point out that these RPVs are “category 1” systems under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), for which member countries must assume “presumption of denial”, except for urgent security reasons national.
“An offer of a Category 1 RPV – so far exported only to US allies involved in critical combat operations for national security – would demonstrate that India is receiving unprecedented technology under the status of” main defense partner ” , Said Benjamin Schwartz of The US-India Business Council (USIBC).
The MTCR strictly controls Category 1 systems because of its ability to deliver nuclear weapons.
America has sold such RPVs to Western allies, including France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom. However, India’s acquisition of the Guardian would be the first sale of an RPV of this category outside the NATO framework.
The Guardian, built by General Atomics, is the naval version of the legendary armed aviator Predator B (also called MQ-9 Reaper), with which the United States has killed terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen. India had ordered the Predator armed aircraft. However, Washington rejected that request and instead offered the unarmed Guardian, who conducts maritime surveillance.
The Guardian, like the Reaper, cruises 300 km per hour to 50,000 feet, and flies 14-hour missions during which he can travel and observe the ocean areas 1,800 km from the base. It is controlled and controlled remotely from a ground control room, which exchanges images in real time with the RPV, through a bidirectional data link.
“This offer represents an arm extended to India by his friends in Washington