India and the US today renewed an enhanced Defence Framework Agreement for the next ten years and identified four key “pathfinder projects” for joint development and production including the next generation Raven mini UAVs and specialised kits for C-130 military transport aircraft.
Both countries also agreed on a Working Group to explore aircraft carrier technology besides designing and development of jet engine technology.
The breakthroughs came following the high-level talks held between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting US President Barack Obama.
“Today, we have also decided to take our growing defence cooperation to a new level. We have agreed, in principle, to pursue co-development and co-production of specific advanced defence projects,” Modi said addressing a joint press interaction with Obama.
Modi said this will help upgrade country’s domestic defence industry and expand the manufacturing sector in India.
He added that both countries will also explore cooperation in other areas of advanced defence technologies.
“We have renewed our Defence Framework Agreement. We will deepen our cooperation on maritime security,” he said.
The new framework will enhance bilateral defence partnership by stepping up joint military exercises and in-depth intelligence-sharing, maritime security efforts among others besides giving a strong push for joint- development and production of high-end defence equipment.
Under the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), four projects have been agreed on as “pathfinder projects”, Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said.
She identified them as next generation Raven Minis UAVs, roll on and roll off kits for C-130, mobile electric hybrid power source and Uniform Integrated Protection Ensemble Increment 2.
Obama, who arrived today on a three-day visit, welcomed the development and said renewal of the defence pact will guide the bilateral defence cooperation for next ten years.
“We agreed to deepen our defence and security cooperation…. And in a major step forward for our relationship, defence technology and trade initiative will allow us to jointly develop and produce defence technologies,” he said.
Obama added that both Modi and he have also agreed to a “new vision for Asia Pacific”.
“We are doing together more to advance our shared security and prosperity in this critical region,” he said.
The first framework agreement, which expires this year, was signed in the US in 2005 by the then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and his US counterpart in the previous George W Bush administration, Donald Rumsfeld.