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US makes India groundbreaking defense offer

Washington, Oct 1 (IANS) In a move reflective of growing defense ties between the two, sealed during last week’s visit here of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the US has made India a “groundbreaking collaborative defence proposal” to co-develop with India a next-generation Javelin antitank capability, according to a top defense official.

The proposal addresses a key military requirement for both armies and is an unprecedented offer the US has made unique to India, Deputy Defence Secretary Ash Carter,said Monday at the Centre for American Progress, a Washington think tank.

The Javelin is a manportable, fire-and-forget, antitank missile employed by dismounted infantry to defeat current and future threat armored combat vehicles.

Carter, who with Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon heads the two countries’ Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTI), said the US is committed to continuing to put new ideas on the table.

He was reviewing Friday’s “successful meeting” between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Barack Obama, “the strong and rapidly growing defense partnership between the US and India, as we execute…. the rebalance, so-called, to the Asia Pacific region.”

Asserting that US and India are “destined to be partners on the world stage,” he said, “we’re each big, complicated democracies. We move slowly, but over the long run we also move surely. And that to me is the trajectory for us and India in the defence area.”

During a trip to India last month he had delivered a second round of potential capability areas of cooperation proposed by US industry. In India, Carter also made sure to hear from senior Indian industry representatives about their ideas for increasing private-sector partnerships.

The push to reach the next level of defence collaboration and co-development with India comes after 15 months of effort between the countries to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to such work under DTI, Carter said.

Among the advances made possible through DTI, Carter said, involved export controls. “We have demonstrated repeatedly that we can release sensitive technology to India,” Carter said.

“We’ve adapted our system in ways that will speed our release process for India,” he added, “especially in the Department of Defence, recognizing that for . all partners this process is subject to case-by-case review and there will always be some technologies that we will keep to ourselves.”

Areas of progress include technology transfer, licensing agreements, license exceptions, end-use monitoring and others.

“We’ve also taken unprecedented steps to identify forward-leaning proposals by industry, from industry on both sides for defence items to be co-produced and-the true measure of our common goal-co-developed by the US and India,” Carter said.

These include a maritime helicopter, a naval gun, a surface-to-air missile system and a scatterable antitank system, all of which were discussed with Indian officials during his recent visit, he said.

“In each instance,” Carter noted, “the United States has fast-tracked these projects to ensure that our internal processes are ready to go as soon as the Indian government wants to move forward.”

US and Indian research and development experts also play a critical role in areas that include the cognitive sciences and others in which the defence department would incentivize increased cooperation by US defence researchers, the deputy secretary said.

“I let the Indian government know last week that I will be incentivizing US researchers who seek and find Indian partners in key research areas we identified previously,” he added.

“We’ll ensure that those innovative projects receive priority funding. This is an approach we’ve only ever taken with the United Kingdom and Australia, and now India will join that company.”

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