COMCASA sets ground for transfer of US military tech

COMCASA sets ground for transfer of US military tech

Prime Minister Narendra Modi poses for a picture along with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis before a meeting in New Delhi. PTI

The Indo-US Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) is meant for “setting the ground” for transfer of high-tech US military equipment to India in future, but it doesn't make India to commit on the purchase of any specific platform from the USA side, top Defence Ministry officials said.

India and USA on Thursday signed the long-awaited agreement after years of negotiation as the UPA government and former Defence Minister A K Antony was dead against a predecessor of this pact, because of its intrusive nature.

The new accord has been build on the earlier version and carries India-specific safeguards.

“It's an India-specific agreement, build on a generic text (known as Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement). The text is completely confidential. It is an enabling agreement that would not commit us to any acquisitions from the US,” defence ministry officials said in a media briefing within hours of signing the agreement.

The COMCASA comes into effect immediately after signing and would be in vogue for the next 10 years.

The officials asserted that data collected by the USA under this agreement wouldn't be shared with anyone without India's consent as there are safeguards in-built into the pact.

Asked for details, the officials declined claiming the text was confidential.

“While the text of COMCASA is confidential, we have ensured that we have full access to the relevant equipment and there will be no disruptions,” they said.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman pointed out that it would enhance India's military capabilities.

COMCASA was the second foundation agreement that India signed with the USA after the two countries signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016.

While the logistics pact facilitates Indian and US military to hold mock drills in each others territory, inking the communication agreement was a precondition for the US industry to transfer advanced military equipment to India.

A third foundation agreement known as Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation is under discussions between the two sides for a long time. The US law requires other nations to sign these agreements for the US to export sensitive equipment.

For instance, when India purchased C-130J Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft from the USA, the planes didn't carry several sophisticated instruments. Instead, Indian systems are being used in their place. The US also cited the absence of COMCASA as one of the reasons for not supplying armed drone technology to India.

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