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India-US sign COMCASA: What is it and how does it help Indian defence?

Nirmala Sitharaman asserted that the pact will enhance India's defence capability and preparedness

BS Web Team 

Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis during Press Conference on India-US 2   2 Dialogue, in New Delhi. Photo: Dalip Kumar
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and US Secretary of Defence James Mattis during Press Conference on India-US 2 2 Dialogue, in New Delhi. Photo: Dalip Kumar

At the 2+2 meet, and the United States signed the COMCASA, Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Foreign Affairs Miinster Sushma Swaraj, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and Secretary James Mattis were present at the time of signing. Michael Pompeo termed the 'Communications, Compatibility, (COMCASA)' agreement a "milestone" in the relationship and Nirmala Sitharaman asserted that the pact will enhance India's capability and preparedness. But the question is what is and what it does for

What is

is one of the three foundation agreements that need to be signed by a country with the United States to share high-end encrypted and satellite data. Till now, is a signatory on only one of the foundational agreements, called the (LEMOA), which was signed in 2016. Discussions have not even begun on the third agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).

This agreement permits Indian military to function on high-end secured and encrypted equipment that are installed on American platforms obtained by Indian Armed Forces. These platforms include C-130 J, C-17, P-8I aircraft, and Apache and Chinook helicopters. This facilitates greater interoperability between forces and military hardware of the two countries, and also possibly with other countries that operate on US-origin platforms. Due to non-signing of COMCASA, these platforms were using commercially available systems.

How it helps India

The agreement is meant to provide a legal framework to allow transfer of encrypted communication security equipment from the to India, which is said to be safer and more secure than the system that India uses right now. Currently, Indian military reportedly uses a locally-sourced platform to communicate between various weapons systems, which also includes the platforms that India has acquired from the The US government will be able to give the go-ahead to install the best communication equipment on relevant platforms being sold to India.

First Published: Thu, September 06 2018. 18:56 IST
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