The United States and India are taking steps to strengthen their defense ties, officials said Tuesday, in the latest sign of cooperation between the two countries in the face of an assertive China.
These plans emerged after two days of meetings in Washington between government and business officials from the two countries and include greater cooperation in military-related industries and effective communication in the Indo-Pacific.
Key among them is cooperation in developing jet engines and weapons technology, according to a White House fact sheet. Specifically, it said the US government would look to speed up the review of US company General Electric’s bid to build jet engines in India for use in indigenous Indian aircraft.
For the operation, the US and Indian militaries will look to build maritime security and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, the paper said.
US Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks told India’s national security adviser Ajit Doval that “building alliances and partnerships is a priority” for the Pentagon, in what she said is “the most contested strategic situation in the region,” according to a Defense Department statement.
Hicks said building the relationship was a major goal of the US’ 2022 National Defense Strategy, calling China a “growing multi-domain threat.”
While the US has seen China build up its military in areas near Taiwan and key US ally Japan, Indian troops have faced off against Chinese troops along the Line of Actual Control, an ill-defined border between the two countries high in the Himalayas.
The US and India, along with Japan and Australia, are members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – known as the Quad – an informal security-focused group that began in the early 2000s. It has become more active in recent years as part of efforts to counter China’s claims to access and territory in the Indo-Pacific.
On the sidelines of the Quad summit in Tokyo last May, US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the US-India program for Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET).
The meetings this week were the first under this program and brought together a number of government officials, senior industry officials and senior academics from both countries.
In addition to defense technology, Washington and New Delhi will work to “increase international cooperation in many areas – including artificial intelligence, quantum technology, and advanced telecommunications,” the White House fact sheet said.
A major industrial component of the meetings was an agreement to develop the semiconductor industry in India, with the educated and skilled workforce required to become a major player in building those critical components.
Additionally, the two countries have pledged to help develop next-generation telecommunications in India, including 5G and 6G mobile technologies.
Washington and New Delhi also agreed to improve cooperation in space, including helping India develop its astronauts, its commercial space sector and a role in planetary defense.