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Testing of defence systems: New tool of adversarial response

India has, of late, tested a number of weapons and defence systems. Coming in a concentrated
manner during an ongoing LAC standoff with China raises an obvious question whether these
tests were pre-planned, or they have been orchestrated in response to the current face-off

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd.)

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India has come a long way especially in space and missile technology it can be compared amongst the leaders. Our strategic capability despite the 1998 sanctions following the Pokhran tests speaks for themselves. DRDO does have major limitations in development of aircraft, tanks, and weapon systems especially for the infantry and armoured. 

Since Chinese intrusion in May 2020, India has tested a number of weapons and defence systems. These tests range from missiles to hypersonic technology demonstrator vehicle (HTDV). Most of these tests have been successful. Coming in a concentrated manner during an ongoing border spat with China raises an obvious question whether these tests were pre-planned or they have been orchestrated in response to the current India-China face-off. 

Given the manner in which the tests have been conducted, it is obvious that they have been done as a response to the faceoff. Therefore, the next obvious question is: What purpose are they serving? Question assumes importance because it is common knowledge that the period between testing and operationalisation of a weapon system takes considerable time. In fact some systems have been inordinately delayed; for example the Trishul, Akash and Nag, the Arjun tank, Nishant UAV have taken so long to develop that they are now obsolete. This aspect is a common knowledge and it is highly unlikely that China will be unduly concerned by these tests. But to assume that the current phase of testing various types of missiles is mere optics meant to demonstrate the Government of India’s intent to counter the Chinese threat may also not be true. A subterranean analysis is needed to decipher the gains that these tests will provide to India’s defence preparedness. The recent statement of DRDO chief G. Satheesh Reddy that “India has achieved selfreliance in the field of missile systems and can produce whatever is required by the armed forces within the country itself” would have been based on a realistic appraisal of DRDO’s capability and not merely an emotional response post these tests. 

SYSTEMS TESTED IN THE PAST FEW MONTHS

 11 tests of various types of missile systems were conducted successfully by DRDO. Only testing of Nirbhay subsonic missile having a range of 1000 km conducted on 12 October, 20 developed a snag and had to be aborted. Some of the important defence systems tested in the recent past are discussed below.

 1) Test of SMART system

 India successfully tested indigenously developed “game changer” SMART (Supersonic Missile Assisted Release Torpedo) torpedo system on 5 October 2020 for the first time. SMART is a missile assisted release of lightweight antisubmarine torpedo systems for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) operations far beyond the torpedo range. This launch and demonstration is significant in establishing anti-submarine warfare capabilities of India. However, the point to be noted is that this was the first test and many subsystems of the missile are yet to be tested. It will take considerable time to operationalise the missile.

 2) Testing of 400-km BrahMos 

. Testing of India successfully test-fired on 30 September 2020, over 400- km strike range Brahmos supersonic cruise missile. The surface-to-surface cruise missile, featuring indigenous booster and airframe section along with other Made in India subsystems, blasted off from the launching complexIII of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) near here, a defence statement said. 

3) Test Firing of Hypersonic Technology Demonstration Vehicle

 India on 8 September 2020, successfully tested Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle putting India in a select group of nations. This small club includes the US, Russia and China. After the AntiSatellite Test conducted last year, this is the biggest achievement by DRDO in terms of proving new technology. It is a dual use technology. It can also be configured to deliver nuclear warheads as well. While the USA has refrained from its operationalisation, Russia and China plan to use it for nuclear weapon delivery also. In the civil arena, it can be used to launch small satellites at cheaper cost. India has just done a technology demonstration.

 4) Test Firing of Shaurya Missile Test

 Firing of Shaurya Missile. India successfully test-fired a new version of nuclear-capable Shaurya Missile on 4 October 2020. The new missile would be inducted in the strategic forces to complement one of the existing missiles in the same class. DRDO claims it to be amongst the top 10 missiles in the world. Shaurya missiles have a very small profile. It is truck portable and can be launched from either from a single truck or a silo. Hence, it can be located anywhere. Moreover as per DRDO it cannot be detected by satellite imaging, the sources said. Given its short range, portability, difficulty of detection and nuclear capability it is an ideal tactical missile it would be an ideal deterrence weapon in the super high altitude terrain of Tibet. Strategic Forces Command it is believed is in the process of operationalising it in the Ladakh region shortly.

 5) Test of Laser Guided Anti-Tank Missile

 Test of Laser Guided Antitank Missile. On 23 September 2020, DRDO successfully test fired laser-guided anti-tank guided missile. The laser-guided anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) is supposed to enhance the firepower capability of the Indian Army particularly along the frontiers with Pakistan and China. There is a long felt need by the Indian Army for an indigenous ATGM and the success of this venture has been eluding the DRDO since long.

 6) Test Firing of Dhruvastra 

Test Firing of Dhruvastra. India’s indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile ‘Dhruvastra’ was test-was fired on 23 July 2020. India has successfully conducted three flight tests of its indigenously developed anti-tank guided missile ‘Dhruvastra’ from the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur in Odisha.

 7) Test Firing of Prithvi-II Test

 Firing of Prithvi-II. Indigenously developed Prithvi-II missile was test fired on 24 September 2020. The trial of the missile, which has a strike range of 350 km, was carried out from a mobile launcher from ITR complex. This missile is already operational. It was a user trial test. Under the garb of testing, besides validating technical parameters, it provided the much needed practice to the users to deploy and fire this weapon if called upon into battle. It should go to the credit of SFC and the DRDO to utilize the flurry of tests to enhance the defence preparedness of the users. 

8) Test Firing of ASAT

 Last year in March, India test-fired an A-SAT missile under ‘Mission Shakti’. The Successful testing has demonstrated its anti-satellite technology.

 9) Test Firing of Rudram Missile 

In continuation of testing various missiles, India successfully test-fired Rudram 1, its first anti-radiation missile designed to take down enemy radars on 9 October 2020. The antiradiation missile can be launched from Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jets. The missile has a launch speed of up to 2 Mach, twice the speed of sound. This will enhance our air combat power manifold and it is hoped that the DRDO will operationalize this capability at the earliest. 

Analysis of the testing Game

 Limited Value: While India’s operational capabilities do not get a boost by such tests in the short term, it does convey a strategic message of India’s increasing technical capabilities and the resolve to deal with our adversary. Having said that, on the flip side we must not get complacent by these tests and continue to be realistic on their impact on the enemy. In fact, some experts say that “the surge of tests by the DRDO is welcome; however, ability to deploy these systems needs greater emphasis and visibility.” If the aim of these tests is signalling to the domestic audience it may have served the purpose, but experts are unlikely to be impressed. Historically too, if we take the record of the journey from final testing to operationalisation of a weapon system, it varies from 8 to 10 years. For example, Prithvi 1 was tested in 1988 and finally it came into service in 1994. Similar story exists for most of the systems under development by DRDO. The technology demonstrator to operationalisation is a journey by itself and incurs considerable financial commitment besides technical, human expertise and financial challenges of commercialization and finally operationalisation.

 Likely Gains

 Enhanced Technical Prowess: Above limitations notwithstanding, the missile journey of India is a success story, comparable to any leading military power in the world. On the positive side, a number of advantages these weapon tests bring to the table. Weapon tests do add up to a country’s technological capabilities. 

Hard Power Image:

 Conducting the weapon tests in a concentrated manner during an ongoing face off conveys an image of strong hard power orientation and resolve of the nation to its adversary. China though not worried by these tests would be cautious while responding to us especially since most of our existing systems provide dual capability of conventional and unconventional employment. Encourage Defence Exports:

 Successful testing of new defence weapon systems generate acceptability of India’s capability to produce quality weapon systems that too at much lesser cost. This will facilitate export of defence systems by India. It is therefore not surprising that in the past few years our export of defence systems have increased by 700 percent in the last three years. India is now exporting defence weapons and equipment to 42 countries, which includes the likes of US, Australia, Finland, France, Germany, Israel, South Africa, and Sweden, Azerbaijan, Seychelles, Estonia, Indonesia, Guinea and the Philippines. India’s exports in 2014 stood at meager Rs 2,000 crore, which in 2019 stood at Rs 17,000 crore and India intends to increase it by $5 billion (about Rs 35,000 crore) in the next 5 years. Improved technological threshold will encourage our neighbouring countries to go in for imports from India. Countering Chinese Influence on our Neighbours: 

Increased acceptability of defence equipment due to display of high end technology demonstration will also help in weaning our neighbours away from Chinese influence. For example the decision to provide a Kilo Class Submarine, Tanks, artillery guns, ammunition for T-72 tanks, radars, sonars and 500 bullet proof jackets to Myanmar’s military may have been influenced by India’s increasing technological capabilities. A similar help to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will go a long way in countering the Chinese influence in our backyard. 

Enhanced Defence Preparedness:

Increased testing leads to induction of indigenous equipment in the long – run at lower costs. Also, some of the equipment tested are on the verge of being inducted into the service such as the Shaurya missile system. There are reports that Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has begun looking for deployment of the weapon system in Ladakh. Further, these tests also help in providing the much needed user practice and revalidation of existing stockpile of our systems. Conduct of the 350 km range Prithivi 2 from the existing stockpile is a case in point. Deployment of Shaurya missile, world’s top 10 missile and ability to practice and validate existing strategic weapons does give us a better response capability against our arch rival China.

Parting Words

 India has come a long way especially in space and missile technology it can be compared amongst the leaders. Our strategic capability despite the 1998 sanctions following the Pokhran tests speaks for themselves. DRDO does have major limitations in development of aircraft, tanks, and weapon systems especially for the infantry and armoured. But it makes it up with the Integrated Missile Development programme and the Space programme. Fortunately these are systems of the future and when coupled with its niche technology development programme in robotics, artificial intelligence, ship building and UAVs we expect India to rapidly move in the direction of self-reliance especially if the private defence sector is boosted appropriately. The new DAP 2020 with an option for leasing of defence systems is a good provision to tide over our short term needs at relatively lower costs till we achieve greater selfreliance and increase our exports as rightly aimed by the present government. It would not be out of sync to mention that India is on the path of projecting itself as a significant power in the region and the testing of new defence systems is a right step in that direction. 

Lt Gen Dushyant Singh (retd) has served in varied terrains and theatre of operations, in India and in the UN as Military Observer. He has commanded an Infantry Battalion, Brigade and a Division in Jammu and Kashmir. He is currently Professor Emeritus Defence Studies at Gujarat Raksha Shakti University.

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Defence

UP CM INAUGURATES ISDA 2021; ALIGARH NODE OF UP DEFENCE CORRIDOR TO BE INAUGURATED BY AUGUST

Ashish Singh

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The Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM), in partnership with the Confederation on Indian Industry (CII) and the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA), is organizing the Indigenisation Summit on Defence and Aerospace (ISDA) 2021 from 28th to 31st July. Speaking at the Inaugural Session of ISDA 2021, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh Yogi Adityanath said that the Defence corridor in UP is a greenfield project and the industries coming alongside the six nodes of the corridor can benefit immensely from the scheme by becoming part of the ecosystem. 1409 hectares of land has been earmarked under the corridor. The project proposals received so far from 54 companies would create employment of more than sixteen thousand people. He shared that development of roads, electricity, water & boundary walls are underway for the Aligarh node and the inauguration of the Aligarh node, comprising of 74 hectares of industrial land divided into 19 units is proposed in August 2021.

Sharing that 2500 crores have been earmarked by the central government for promoting investments in the defence corridors, he said that land banks were being created for zones where there is a greater demand of land for investment projects. The state government along with the Defence Ministry is also working on the establishment of labs under the Common facilitation centre, Defence testing and Infrastructure scheme which would benefit MSMEs & Start-ups in prototyping, technology training as well as design & development. The state government has also established centres of excellence at IIT Kanpur, BHU for a greater engagement between the Indian navy, industry & academia. The first instalment of the grant for research & development at these centres has already been disbursed & the second is under consideration. Awanish Awasthi, ACS-Home & CEO, UPEIDA noted that the vision of the UP government is to attain 1st position as a business destination. Speaking on the progress of the nodes of the Defence corridor, he mentioned that infrastructure development to the tune of 32 crores is underway at Aligarh and the node is expected to be ready for inauguration by August 2021.

The Kanpur node, where 25 crores has been assigned infrastructure development would also be ready in a couple of months whereas the Jhansi node work would be taken up in the next six months. Chairman ISDA 2021 & Chairman, CII Northern Region Committee on Defence & Aerospace Manoj Gupta remarked that a strong and empowered defence ecosystem is crucial for any country seeking to emerge as a significant global player. With the thrust provided by the ‘Make in India’ movement, today India’s exports are to the tune of ten thousand crores which was merely five hundred crores eight years back. Measures like only domestic tenders for contracts below 200 crores, increasing FDI limit in defence production from 49% to 74%, greater number of production categories, defence offset program as well as an updated DAP 2020 will further embolden the defence manufacturing in the country. He further pointed out that a higher offset for defence industries as well as a single-window system for license issuance for the defence manufacturers will go a long way in making UP a hub for defence & aerospace. Jayant Patil, President, SIDM pointed out that the reforms pertaining to the defence sector are focused on building capacity. This is evident through the 15% increase in defence budget allocation. He also highlighted that two-thirds of the defence budget is now dedicated to purchases from Indian industries, of which 20% has been reserved for MSMEs. Patil mentioned that 208 items have been moved to the positive list now hence no imports of these items would be allowed into the country to promote the Indian manufacturers. He highlighted that Indian is expected to be the security provider in the Region, for which the industry can prove to become the sixth arm of the Indian Defence system. Speaking on the occasion, Sachin Agarwal, Chairman, SIDM UP Chapter pointed out that today, close to 8000 Defence Sector MSMEs, primarily from tier 2 and tier 3 cities form the backbone and are the largest part, in terms of volume, of the Industry. He also mentioned that the industries that are bound to grow and mature in this phase of development will find that UP can provide the necessary infrastructure and support needed to augment production and services. Agarwal highlighted that the Government planning to spend $250 billion over the next 10 years for the modernization of its Forces and the Industry will have a critical role to play in meeting these demands. Ashmita Sethi, Co-Chairman, CII Northern Region Committee on Defence & Aerospace spoke about the various emerging technologies being deployed in defence manufacturing for which UP can become a potential hub. These included defence electronics, MRO facilities, space related research & development, electric military vehicles among others. Over the 3 day period, Sessions with UPEIDA, DPSUs and the Services HQs will be held to generate awareness about opportunities available for the Industry vis-a-vis Defence Manufacturing.

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Defence

IAF FORMALLY INDUCTS RAFALE AIRCRAFT INTO NO. 101 SQUADRON

Ashish Singh

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The Indian Air Force formally inducted Rafale aircraft into No. 101 Squadron at Air Force Station Hasimara in Eastern Air Command (EAC) on Wednesday. Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) presided over the induction ceremony. On arrival, CAS was received by Air Marshal Amit Dev, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command. The event also included a fly-past heralding the arrival of Rafale aircraft to Hasimara followed by a traditional water cannon salute.

Addressing the personnel during the induction ceremony, CAS said that the induction of Rafale had been carefully planned at Hasimara; keeping in mind the importance of strengthening IAF’s capability in the Eastern Sector. Recalling the glorious history of 101 Squadron which bestowed upon them the title of ‘Falcons of Chamb and Akhnoor’, CAS urged the personnel to combine their zeal and commitment with the unmatched potential of the newly inducted platform. He said that he had no doubt that the Squadron would dominate whenever and wherever required and ensure that the adversary would always be intimidated by their sheer presence.

101 Squadron is the second IAF Squadron to be equipped with Rafale aircraft. The Squadron was formed on 01 May 1949 at Palam and has operated Harvard, Spitfire, Vampire, Su-7 and MiG-21M aircraft in the past. The glorious history of this Squadron includes active participation in 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak wars.

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RAJNATH SINGH ADDRESSES SCO DEFENCE MINISTERS’ MEETING IN DUSHANBE ‘

Ashish Singh

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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Member-States of the SCO on successful completion of 20 years of its existence. He said that though India joined the organisation in 2017, historical and civilisational relations and geographical connects make India inseparable from the SCO. Addressing the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Defence Ministers’ meeting in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on Wednesday Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said, Terrorism is the most serious threat to international peace and security. “Any act of terror and support to such acts, including cross border terrorism, committed by whomsoever, wherever and for whatever motives, is a crime against humanity,” he added. The Defence Minister reaffirmed India’s resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Rajnath Singh emphasised, “India accords high priority to the consolidation of trust in the security domain within SCO as well as strengthening ties with SCO partners bilaterally on the basis of equality, mutual respect and understanding.” The challenge today is not just one of concepts and norms, but equally of their sincere practice, he added.

Stressing on the importance of the regional group, Rajnath Singh said, “The SCO Nations, together, encompass nearly half the human population on our planet. In terms of geography, it covers approximately three fifths of the Eurasian continent. We, therefore, have collective stakes to create a safe, secure and stable region that contributes towards progress and improvement of human development indices of our people and the generations which will follow.” He pointed out that it is in the same spirit India helps people of Afghanistan, which is facing violence and devastation over decades. So far India completed 500 projects in Afghanistan and continuing with some more with total development aid of US dollar 3 billion. Speaking about geo-strategic location of India that makes it both a Eurasian land power and also a stake-holder in the Indo-Pacific, the Defence Minister said, “Our intent and aspirations are therefore focused towards prosperity and development of the entire region. We affirm this intent through our national policy of Security and Growth for All in the Region, commonly known by the acronym SAGAR.” Security and Stability are most essential components to create conducive environment for growth and economic development of the region and of our respective Nations, he added.

Reiterating India’s resolve to work within the SCO framework for helping create and maintain a peaceful, secure and stable region, Rajnath Singh highlighted, “India also reiterate commitments to partner with fellow SCO Member-States to develop joint institutional capacities that respect individual national sensitivities and yet generate a spirit of cooperation to create contact and connectivity between people, societies and nations.” Referring to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Defence Minister said “It has affected nations, civil societies and citizens in multiple ways. This is a warning sign of how non-traditional security challenges like pandemics, climate change, food security, water security and associated societal disruptions can impact national and international landscape.”

Rajnath Singh said the Armed Forces and the Defence Research and Development Organisation played a stellar role in efforts against Covid-19. He said, “During the global pandemic, India was able to provide support and assistance to countries around the world. This includes 6.6 crore doses of vaccines to 90 countries, support with medicine, medical consumables and equipment to 150 countries. We may mention the massive ‘Vande Bharat’ logistic service to move over 70 lakh stranded people, including foreigners, mostly by air route, but also by our ships in the Indian Ocean.”

Defence Minister assured, “India plans to produce well over 250 crore doses of vaccines between August and the end of 2021.We are determined to vaccinate at least 90 crore adult Indians and to help other friendly countries with vaccine.”

The Defence Minister called upon Member-Nations to evolve to meet the needs of its time. He said, “No institution, howsoever important, can remain frozen at the moment of its foundation. The inherent strength of SCO lies in the fact that Member-States participate in cooperation programme at their own pace and as per respective national policies. We are glad that SCO has evolved as truly an international organisation of significance.” Event of today is yet another step towards strengthening stability and security in the region. This will serve to further development of multilateral cooperation within the SCO format, he added.

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Defence

INDIAN NAVY & IDFC FIRST BANK OFFER HONOUR FIRST BANKING SOLUTIONS TO NAVAL PERSONNEL

Ashish Singh

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IDFC FIRST Bank announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Navy to offer Honour First, a premium banking solution, to serving personnel and veterans of the Indian Navy. Honour First is specially designed keeping in mind the needs of the Armed Forces community. It includes a zero balance salary Honour First salary account with unlimited free ATM transactions from any location, free fund transfers through IMPS, RTGS, and NEFT, free lost card liability protection and purchase protection. It has an accident insurance cover of Rs 46 lakh which include a children education grant of Rs. 4 lakh for wards of age up to 23 years and an additional Rs 2 lakh for girl child marriage cover for daughters in the age bracket of 18 years to 25 years. The MoU for Honour First was signed at the Naval Headquarters in New Delhi between Commodore Neeraj Malhotra, Commodore – Pay and Allowances, Indian Navy and Colin D’Souza, Head – Corporate Salary, IDFC First Bank.

Indian Navy is responsible to safeguard the maritime frontiers of the country including the island territories against external aggression as also assist in the safety of the world sea lanes in the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Speaking on the occasion, Amit Kumar, Head-Retail Liabilities & Branch Banking, IDFC First Bank, said, “It’s a proud moment for us. The association couldn’t have come at a better time as the Indian Navy celebrates the Golden Jubilee of the 1971 war. The Honour First solution is customised to the needs of Naval personnel and stands rooted in our customer-first and nation-first approach. We are constantly improving our offerings using state-of-the-art technology for a superior customer experience. It is a privilege for us to now serving the Indian Navy with an array of our convenient banking services, digitised financial solutions and enhanced access.” Malhotra said, “I welcome the initiative of IDFC First bank to offer customised banking solutions to suit the needs of Indian Navy and its personnel.”

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FLEET AWARD CEREMONY OF WESTERN NAVAL COMMAND HELD AT MUMBAI AFTER ONE-YEAR GAP

Ashish Singh

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The Fleet Award Ceremony each year marks the end of the operational cycle of the Western Fleet, the Sword Arm of the Western Naval Command. The ceremony was held at Mumbai after a gap of a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the ceremony was hosted by Rear Admiral Ajay Kochhar, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet. The ceremony marked the operational achievements of the Fleet from April 2020 to March 2021. The event was attended by Flag Officers of Western Naval Command with Vice Admiral R Hari Kumar, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command as the Chief Guest.




The ceremony hosted this year was a modest one in adherence to Covid norms. While the attendance was in limited numbers, the achievements of the Fleet were numerous as expected of the Sword Arm. A total of 20 trophies were given away covering a myriad spectrum of naval operations, safety practices and morale. INS Kolkata was awarded the ‘Best Ship’ among the capital ships for exhibiting immaculate grit whilst undertaking a plethora of maritime operations. INS Tarkash was awarded the ‘Most Spirited’ ship for an awe-inspiring display of enthusiasm and morale in all Fleet activities, exercises at sea and indomitable spirit. INS Deepak won the award of ‘Best Ship’ in the category of Tankers and OPVs.

The year covering the operational cycle from April 2020 to March 2021 was anything but ordinary. While the norm of the hour was to work from home, the Western Fleet remained mission deployed and poised for action during the challenging period last year. The Western Fleet also contributed immensely to Covid relief missions in support of the National effort to fight the pandemic. The ships and aircraft of the western fleet also undertook daring rescue operations to save innumerable lives when cyclone Tauktae struck the western coast of India. Today’s ceremony also paid a tribute to the sacrifices of the men and their families who put the call of duty before themselves for all these missions. The Sword Arm remains the first responder, operationally deployed, combat-ready and stood too.

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Defence

US STATE SECRETARY BLINKEN ARRIVES IN NEW DELHI ON A TWO-DAY VISIT

Ashish Singh

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The USA State Secretary Antony J. Blinken has landed in New Delhi on a two-day visit to reaffirm the United States’ commitment to strengthening Indo-US partnership and underscore cooperation on shared priorities. Secretary Blinken will meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister Dr S. Jaishankar to discuss a wide range of issues, including continued cooperation on Covid-19 response efforts, Indo-Pacific engagement, shared regional security interests, shared democratic values, and addressing the climate crisis. On Indo-US ties, Secretary Antony J. Blinken has said, “The US and India are working together on so many of the most important challenges of our time and ones that are having a profound impact on the lives of our citizens. The partnership between the US and India is vital, it’s strong, and it’s increasingly productive.”

THE INDO-PACIFIC FRONT

India is a leading global power and a key US partner in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. At the inaugural Quad Leaders’ Summit in March, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi joined their Japanese and Australian counterparts in pledging to respond to the economic and health impacts of Covid-19, combat the climate crisis, and address shared challenges, including in cyber-space, critical technologies, counterterrorism, quality infrastructure investment, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and maritime security.

DETERRING ADVERSARIES AND DEFENDING INTERESTS

US-India defence cooperation is reaching new heights, including through information sharing, liaison officers, increasingly complex exercises like Malabar, and defence enabling agreements, such as the secure communications agreement COMCASA. As of 2020, the US has authorised over $20 billion in defence sales to India. Through the US-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, the US and India work together on co-production and co-development of defence equipment. The US and India are also closely coordinating on regional security issues, such as Afghanistan.

STRENGTHENING THE US-INDIA PARTNERSHIP

The US and India have a strong strategic partnership founded on shared values and a commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. The US has supported India’s emergence as a leading global power and vital partner in efforts to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is a region of peace, stability, and growing prosperity and economic inclusion. The US and India cooperate on a wide range of diplomatic, economic and security issues, including defence, non-proliferation, regional cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, shared democratic values, counterterrorism, climate change, health, energy, trade and investment, peacekeeping, the environment, education, science and technology, agriculture, space, and oceans. In 2008, the US and India signed an agreement, making India a full partner in the governance and funding of the Fulbright Program. An increase in exchanges under the agreement has allowed for the development of new and innovative programs, and India now has the largest Fulbright Scholar (faculty) program in the world. In FY 2019, this funding provided opportunities for 61 U.S. Scholars, 66 Indian Scholars, 80 US students, including 29 English Teaching Assistants, and 55 Indian students, including 13 Foreign Language Teaching Assistants. The US and India are working to expand cooperation in international organisations. The US welcomed India joining the UN Security Council in January 2021 for a two-year term. In October 2020, India hosted the third 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue, and the US looks forward to the next 2+2 later this year.

COMBATING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

The US has contributed more than $200 million to India’s Covid-19 relief and response efforts since the pandemic began, including more than $50 million in emergency supplies and training for more than 218,000 frontline health workers on infection prevention and control, benefitting more than 43 million Indians. Earlier this year, the US and India initiated the renewal of a memorandum of understanding to collaborate through an International Center of Excellence in Research focused on infectious diseases, including Covid-19 and other emerging threats. The US and India are partnering to strengthen the global response to Covid-19, on issues ranging from addressing infectious disease outbreaks to strengthening health systems to securing global supply chains. The US pharmaceutical companies have coordinated with Indian companies since the beginning of the pandemic. This cooperation includes voluntary licensing and technology transfer agreements to increase global manufacturing capacity for Covid-19 vaccines, therapies, and conducting clinical trials.

TACKLING CLIMATE CRISIS

The US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry travelled to India in April of this year and met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. They discussed the importance of two of the world’s largest economies leading together to address the climate crisis. At the Leaders’ Summit on Climate in April, President Biden and Prime Minister Modi launched the US-India Climate and Clean Energy Agenda 2030 Partnership to strengthen cooperation on strong actions in the current decade to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement and to help each country achieve its respective climate and clean energy goals. Under the new Agenda 2030 Partnership, the US and India look forward to launching the new Climate Action and Finance Mobilisation Dialogue, led by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, and relaunching the Strategic Clean Energy Partnership, led by Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, later this year. The US looks forward to furthering cooperation with India on tackling the climate crisis and rising global ambition ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, UK, in November.

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