Carter: US-India Defense Collaboration Moves to Next Level

A coalition color guard marches off the 82nd Airborne Division parade field after the conclusion of the opening ceremony of Yudh Abhyas 2013, the annual training event between the US and Indian armies on Fort Bragg, NC, May 3, 2013

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Washington, DC – Deputy Secretary Ash Carter delivered a groundbreaking collaborative defense proposal to Indian military officials during his recent trip there and is committed to continuing to put new ideas on the table, he told an audience today (Sept 30) at the Center for American Progress.

Carter traveled to India, Afghanistan and Pakistan on a 7-day trip that began Sept. 12, but at this event he focused on what he called the strong and rapidly growing defense partnership between the United States and India.

“In the United States, with US industry … we identified and put forward to the Indians a truly groundbreaking entirely new collaborative proposal to co-develop with India a next-generation Javelin antitank capability,” Carter said.

The proposal addresses a key military requirement for both armies and is an unprecedented offer the United States has made unique to India, the deputy secretary added.

During the trip, Carter delivered a second round of potential capability areas of cooperation proposed by US industry. And in India, Carter said he 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 defense collaboration and co-development with India comes after 15 months of effort between the countries to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to such work, Carter said.

The underlying program, called the Defense Trade Initiative, was devised by former Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Indian National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon, and Menon and Carter used DTI to find ways to take the nations’ defense cooperation to the next level.

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 Defense, 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 defense 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 the deputy secretary 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 DOD would incentivize increased cooperation by US defense 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.”

When Carter visited India a year ago, he visited the Lockheed Tata plant in Hyderabad, which assembles parts for the C-130J cargo plane, a partnership between an American company and an Indian company, he said. “This was a partnership that was encouraged and applauded by the US and Indian governments but was not founded by either one,” Carter added.

“This year I had the opportunity to travel to Hindon Air Force Station, where the Indian Air Force operates a growing number of C-130Js and also C-17s,” he said. While he was there, the deputy secretary was briefed by an Indian Air Force pilot who landed and took off in a C-130J in the Himalayas from an altitude well above 16,000 feet, “certainly a record and quite an accomplishment,” Carter said.

“We’re excited to have the next tranche of six C-130Js included in a pipeline of several major defense sales currently under consideration by the Indian government,” he added. “Our goal is for India to have all the capabilities it needs to meet its security requirements and to be a key partner in that effort.”

The Defense Department also invests in joint exercises, Carter said, because the US and Indian militaries remain the most visible cooperative efforts between the two nations and serve as a cornerstone of the defense cooperative relationship. Such exercises allow the US and Indian militaries exposure to one another’s tactics, techniques and procedures, he said.

“They also allow Indian troops access to US troops, making operating together possible if it proves necessary to further US and Indian interests and, perhaps most importantly, helping foster person-to-person ties in the defense area that are so important to our two countries in other areas,” Carter observed.

In May, he said, 200 Indian Army soldiers trained with members of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, (NC) where they jointly conducted various scenarios related to a UN peacekeeping mission, from humanitarian assistance to air assault. “I hear Indian soldiers were even able to shoot off a Javelin or two,” the deputy secretary added. “And one day soon I’m confident that we’ll co-develop these weapons.”

As for the United States and India, Carter 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 defense area.”

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