US for defence co-production with India if tech secured

Trump Administration says US could start defence co-production with India, only if New Delhi tightens protocols to protect military tech from piracy by third party

Photo for representation.
President Donald Trump's administration in Washington D.C. wants New Delhi to tighten its security protocols to make it sure that no third party can access the defence technologies the United States will share with India.
 
Even as the two sides are close to finalizing the Industrial Security Annex agreement, the Trump Administration underlined that United States could start joint research and development as well as joint production of military hardware with India, only when New Delhi would ensure that no third party could access the defence technology shared by America.
 
A senior official of the US State Department said that while American Government and the defence industries were interested in “co-research, co-development, and co-production” of military hardware with India, Trump Administration would not leave any scope for Russia and other third countries to steal the technologies.
 
“Indians, while very interested – as they should be – in co-research, co-development, and co-production – which we are interested in, and our industry’s interested in – we don’t want it exposed because some Russians walking the shop floor decide to go walk away and put it in their handbag or knapsack and take it back to Moscow,” the senior US State Department official told journalists during a briefing in Washington D.C. “We’re not going to allow that.”
 
The transcript of the briefing has been put up on the website of the US State Department.
 
“And, so what we have pushed with Indians is: tighten up your procurement processes, tighten up your defence technology security processes and protocols, and then you’re putting yourselves in a much more mature space to be a tighter, closer partner,” said the official.
 
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will hold the second India-America 2+2 dialogue with US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and Secretary of Defence, Mark Esper, in Washington D.C. next month. The US is keen to ink the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) agreement with India on the sideline of the dialogue.
 
The first 2+2 dialogue between India and the US in September 2018 had seen two sides agreeing to start negotiations for the agreement.
 
The ISA agreement will have New Delhi guaranteeing for protection of the classified information and military technology the US will share with India to elevate the defence relations from the seller-buyer level to the level of joint R&D and joint production.
 
The US State Department official acknowledged the scope of “co-research, co-production and co-development” of military hardware by India and America, but underlined that New Delhi would have to make the protocols and processes more effective to protect defence technology and procurement processes from piracy.
 
Two US companies – Boeing and Lockheed Martin – are in the race to win a contract worth about $ 15 billion to supply Indian Air Force (IAF) 114 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft to replace its ageing fleet of MIG 21s. New Delhi wants the aircraft to be manufactured in India.
 
India is also likely to clinch deals worth over $ 7 billion with the US for procurement of Sea Guardian armed drones and P-8I anti-submarine warfare and surveillance aircraft. 
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