U.S., India to step up defense, tech cooperation as China threat grows


The United States and India are taking steps to strengthen their defense partnership, officials said Tuesday, in the latest sign of cooperation between the two countries in the face of an increasingly assertive China.

The plans, drawn up after two days of meetings in Washington between government and business officials from both countries, include increased cooperation with military-related industries and coordination of operations in the Indo-Pacific region.

Key among these, according to a White House fact sheet, is cooperation in developing technologies for jet engines and munitions for military use. Specifically, it said the U.S. government would seek to expedite the review of an application by U.S. manufacturer General Electric to manufacture jet engines in India for use in Indian-origin aircraft.

U.S. Army paratroopers and Indian Army units take part in the opening ceremony of Exercise Yudh Abhyas 21 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, October 15, 2021.

Operationally, the U.S. and Indian forces will seek to build maritime security and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the briefing said.

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Catherine Hicks told India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval that “building alliances and partnerships is a top priority for the Pentagon,” which she said was part of “increasing competition in the region,” according to a statement from the Defense Department. Intense strategic environment”.

Hicks said building partnerships is a key goal of the U.S. 2022 National Defense Strategy, which calls China a “growing multi-domain threat.”

As the U.S. watched China build up military forces near Taiwan and Japan, a key U.S. ally, Indian troops clashed with Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control, the two countries’ ill-defined border high in the Himalayas.

The US and India, along with Japan and Australia, are members of the Quadruple Security Dialogue (Quad), known as the Quad, an informal security-focused group dating back to the early 2000s. It has become more active in recent years as part of efforts to counter China’s influence and territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific region.

The US-India Critical and Emerging Technologies (iCET) Initiative was announced by US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Quad Summit in Tokyo last May.

This week’s meeting, the first under the programme, brought together dozens of government officials, industry chief executives and senior academics from both countries.

In addition to defense technology, Washington and New Delhi will work to “expand international cooperation in a range of areas — including artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and advanced wireless technologies,” the White House fact sheet said.

A major industrial segment of the meeting was an agreement to develop a semiconductor industry in India, which has the educated and skilled workforce needed to become a major player in manufacturing these critical components.

In addition, the two countries pledged to help India develop next-generation telecommunications, including 5G and 6G advanced mobile phone technology.

Washington and New Delhi also agreed to strengthen cooperation in space, including helping India develop astronauts, a commercial space sector and a role in planetary defense.

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