The US defence secretary talks about strengthening ties with India to confront China
The US defence secretary talks about strengthening ties with India to confront China

New Delhi: As both nations struggle with China's economic rise and rising belligerence, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on Monday discussed strengthening partnerships with India, a significant arms buyer, and established a roadmap for cooperation for the next five years, according to officials.


Austin's visit occurs as India develops its home defence industry by acquiring new technologies and decreasing reliance on imports, particularly from Russia, which remains India's main source of military hardware despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

A statement from the Indian Defence Ministry said Austin and Rajnath Singh discussed ways to create resilient supply chains. They made the decision "to identify opportunities for the co-development of new technologies and the co-production of existing and new systems and facilitate increased collaboration between defence startup ecosystems of the two countries."

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In order to support India's dominant position as a security provider in the Indo-Pacific, they also discussed regional security issues and agreed to improve operational collaboration across all military services, according to the statement.

According to a US Department of Defence press release, the new roadmap for US-India defence industrial cooperation will expedite technology cooperation and co-production in areas like air combat and land mobility systems, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, munitions, and the undersea domain.

It stated that the initiative's goal was to "change the paradigm for cooperation between the US and Indian defence sectors, including a set of specific proposals that could give India access to cutting-edge technologies and support India's plans for defence modernization."

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Cooperation in cyberspace, space, and artificial intelligence were also discussed. Austin also had a meeting with Ajit Doval, India's national security adviser.

"I'm going back to India to meet with influential people and talk about enhancing our Major Defence Partnership. Together, we're advancing a common goal for a free and open Indo-Pacific," Austin wrote on Twitter on Sunday after arriving in New Delhi.

Austin, who is currently in India for a second time, was supposed to lay the groundwork for Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to Washington on June 22, which has sparked rumours about potential defence contract announcements.

According to defence analyst Rahul Bedi, India is looking to purchase 18 armed high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles from General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. for between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. According to Bedi, the UAVs would likely be stationed in the strategic Indian Ocean region as well as along its tense borders with China and Pakistan.

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According to Indian media reports, the US-India Defence Policy Group met in Washington last month and discussed the possibility of producing and manufacturing combat aircraft engines, infantry combat vehicles, howitzers, and their precision ordnance jointly.

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