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India, US to collaborate on unmanned aerial systems, small arms tech

The resolve to speed up defence collaboration in critical areas was made at the 9th India-US Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative group meeting

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

India-US

In a bid to revitalise a defence technology sharing pact, India and the US on Thursday signed a 'statement of intent' on key deliverables, including collaboration on strategic projects in the areas of unmanned aerial systems, small arms technology and surveillance.

The resolve to speed up defence collaboration in critical areas was made at the 9th Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative (DTTI) group meeting co-chaired by Secretary (Defence Production) Subhash Chandra and US Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord.

A significant achievement of the meeting was the signing of the 'statement of intent' with respect to key deliverables in the near, medium and long terms, a Defence Ministry statement said.

"Today we agreed that we have three near-term projects -- air launch small unmanned aerial systems, lightweight small arms technology and finally intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance or ISTAR," Lord told a select group of journalists after the DTTI meeting.

She exuded confidence that the near-term projects will move forward to a project agreement or to Foreign Military Sales (FMS) within "six months or so".

"We have two mid-term projects -- maritime domain awareness solution and virtual augmented mixed reality for aircraft maintenance," Lord said.

The two sides are also collaborating on two long-term projects, including one on countering unmanned aircraft systems, she said.

Responding to a question, Lord said that the DTTI original project on jet engine technology has been suspended mainly because it ran into the challenge of US export controls.

"We could not come to an understanding on what exportable technologies could be useful to the Indians and we did run into a challenge of US export controls. That said, there is an enormous amount of aircraft technology that we could work on together," Lord said.

The DTTI, signed in 2012, was aimed at identifying and promoting major joint development and manufacturing projects for the defence forces but has not yielded any significant tangible results.

"I know that in the past, there have been frustrations with progress under DTTI, but I can assure you that we are making considerable progress," Lord asserted.

The Joint Working Group co-chairs are working hard to show progress on current projects and identify new ones, she said.

"The technologies that they are discussing are significant; things such as virtual augmented reality, air-launched UAS, networked operations, brand new weapon and light-weight ammo designs," she said.

"We agreed to a near-term timeline to complete a DTTI standard operating procedure (SOP) that will guide us as we try to coordinate projects under two different systems. We identified the upcoming 2+2, potentially this December in Washington D.C., as a near-term opportunity to finalize the SOP," Lord said.

The two sides also agreed this week to start holding more frequent video tele-conferences to provide focused updates on priorities, requirements and programmes, she said.

This is a major step forward to closely track and improve DTTI programmes, Lord said.

Moving forward, she said, the two sides are also going to formalise an industry to industry framework, she said.

At the meeting, Chandra said that while the DTTI has been an ongoing process, both sides were now poised to actually achieve tangible outcomes.

The shared values that form the bedrock of stable relations between the two sides have led to deepening of defence ties, he said.

The Indian government remains committed to continually engage with the US government and facilitate cooperation between the defence industries of both nations, Chandra said.

First Published: Thu, October 24 2019. 19:30 IST
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