India and the US signed a Project Agreement (PA)

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    In News

    • Recently, India and the US signed a co-development agreement for an Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ALUAV).

    About Project Agreement(PA)

    • The PA was signed between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) by the co-chairs of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Air Systems, under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI).
    • The PA outlines the collaboration between:
      • Air Force Research Laboratory, 
      • Indian Air Force, and 
      • Defence Research and Development Organisation towards design, development, demonstration, testing and evaluation of systems to co-develop an ALUAV prototype.
    • Brief history:
      • The PA for the ALUAV fell under the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation Memorandum of Agreement between MoD and U.S. DoD, which was first signed in January 2006 and renewed in January 2015. 
      • It was a significant step towards deepening defence technology collaboration between the two nations through the co-development of defence equipment.
    • Principal organisations for the execution of PA
      • The Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) at DRDO 
      • Aerospace Systems Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), 
      • the Indian Air Force
      • US Air Force 

    US | India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)

    • Deepening bilateral defence cooperation is a strategic imperative for the United States and India, but for many years progress in this area was impeded by unique national bureaucratic structures, acquisition models, and budget processes. 
    • In 2012, the Department of Defense created a mechanism for overcoming or reducing these impediments. This effort has evolved into the India-U.S. Defense Technology and Trade Initiative or DTTI.
    • DTTI is intended to focus senior U.S. and Indian leadership on real opportunities and challenges associated with strengthening our defence partnership. 
    • While DTTI is not a treaty or law, it elevates the shared commitment of both countries to: 
      • defence trade, 
      • helps eliminate bureaucratic obstacles, 
      • accelerates timelines, 
      • promotes collaborative technology exchange, 
      • strengthens cooperative research, and 
      • enables co-production/co-development of defence systems for sustainment and modernization of our military forces.
    • Under the DTTI Terms of Reference, the two leads will meet as the DTTI Group every six months alternating locations between the U.S. and India.
    • The day-to-day DTTI effort is overseen by the DTTI Interagency Task Force (DIATF).
    • Four Service-led Joint Working Groups (JWGs) execute projects and activities under DTTI: 
      • Land Systems (LS), 
      • Naval Systems (NS), 
      • Air Systems (AS), and 
      • Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (ACTC).
    • Objective:
      • The main aim of DTTI is to bring sustained leadership focus to promote collaborative technology exchange and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of future technologies for Indian and US military forces. 
    • The PA for co-development of ALUAV has been overseen by the Joint Working Group on Air Systems and is a major accomplishment for DTTI.

    Other Agreements between India and the US

    • LEMOA:
      • The two countries have also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.
    • COMCASA:
      • The two sides have also signed the COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
    • BECA:
      • In October last year, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties. The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.
    • The Indian defence establishment has already used at least five American platforms at the LAC— C-17 Globemaster III for military transport, Boeing’s Chinook CH-47 as heavy-lift helicopters, Boeing’s Apache as tank-killers, P-8I Poseidon for overland reconnaissance, and Lockheed Martin’s C-130J for airlifting troops.

    Significance

    • Mutual trust: 
      • The enhancement of mutual trust and a commitment to the long-term strategic relationship. 
    • Structured and efficient: 
      • With these key defence pacts in place, cooperation between the US and India can take place in a more structured and efficient way, rather than in episodic bursts.
    • Sharing of valuable assets, encrypted systems and classified information:
      • While LEMOA means one partner trusts the other enough to expose its valuable assets, COMCASA means one is confident that it can rely on encrypted systems to connect the two militaries. And the latest pact, BECA, means the countries can share highly classified information in real-time without fear of being compromised.

    Challenges

    • The US wants India to move away from Russian equipment and platforms, as it feels this may expose its technology and information to Moscow. 
    • So far, India is going ahead with the purchase of the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia, and this has been a sticking point for American interlocutors.

    Conclusion

    • The United States and India have shared interests in promoting global security, stability, and economic prosperity through trade, investment, and connectivity. 
    • New Delhi’s strategic embrace of Washington is a desirable outcome due to clear and present danger from China.

    Source: TH