Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Paris Air Show 2015 Under New Leadership, India Adds Defense Work

Neelam Mathews
June 15, 2015
Prme Minister Modi and Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, left, have taken the relationship between his nation and India "out of the closet."
India’s thrust in the past year to get a greater slice of the international defense equipment pie has resulted in a host of agreements being signed in the first five months of 2015, under the new Narendra Modi government.
The country is aggressively tapping the world for hi-tech equipment. Underscoring India’s aerospace technology plans, Minister of State for Defense Rao Inderjit Singh said the focus is to “open opportunities for innovative minds to exploit the globally evolving spirit of teaming up and pooling resources.”
Modi has not been shy of talking openly about relations with Israel, which is a top-three exporter of arms, following India’s establishing of diplomatic relations with the country in the early 1990s (which it kept under wraps due to sensitivities). He will become the first prime minister to visit Israel, for which the dates are to be announced soon.
During the Aero India air show in Bangalore in February this year, Israel’s Defense Minister, Lt. Gen. (ret) Moshe Ya’alon, became the first Israeli defense minister to visit India. In a briefing to reporters, he said the relationship between Israel and India is “finally out of the closet.” In late May, India and Israel agreed to jointly develop a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) system for the Indian Army to replace Russian-made air defense systems.
In late January, when U.S. President Barack Obama visited as chief guest for India’s Republic Day, he pledged an increased degree of military-sector cooperation.
Then the Defense Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI), something that had not seen the light of day for many years, got a boost when it was renewed for another decade. The agreement defines steps to boost the bilateral defense partnership, and incorporates for the first time a provision to co-produce weapons in India, along with transfer of technology through the DTTI.
However, challenges remain as three unsigned agreements need to be signed before the four projects announced under the DTTI can move forward. The major agreement is the administrative framework for sharing communications, the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA). Frank Kendall, U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, told AIN: “We would like to get that, in time.”  India has yet to sign it, based on  “sovereignty issues.”
The other two include the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), a cross-servicing agreement designed to enable the two militaries a quid pro quo on cooperation in logistics support, refueling and berthing facilities for warships and aircraft; and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).
Four “pathfinder projects” announced under the DTTI include AeroVironment developing the next generation Cheel UAV along with Dynamatic Technologies; roll-on roll-off cargo modules for disaster-relief operations for the C-130J tactical transport aircraft (in cooperation with Lockheed Martin); The General Atomics Electro-Magnetic Aircraft Launch System for India’s second indigenous aircraft carrier; and hot section jet engine technology byGE, for unspecified projects.
The visit in March of the Spanish Minister of Defense Pedro MorenĂ©s led to the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for Mutual Protection of Classified Information. This sets out the practices and procedures for the application of industrial security principles for administration of contracts and pre-contractual arrangements that involve the exchange of classified information.
MorenĂ©s had also committed to a government-to-government deal for the Avro replacement project for which the (now Airbus) C-295 was the sole bidder. Recently, the $2.4 billion project was cleared for the C-295 to be produced in India–the first private project for production of a military aircraft.
While Modi visited Toulouse recently, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen visited India not long ago for exploratory talks on the manufacture of six diesel-electric submarines, as well as upgrading Dornier aircraft used by the Navy and Coast Guard.
Keeping its old ally Russia in the fold, in December last year Modi was quick to reaffirm friendly ties during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Delhi. The two leaders signed defense agreements that included licensed production of the Kamov Ka-226T helicopter.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said that over the past year, the Indian government has established contact with 101 countries.

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