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Highlights of US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin visit to India from June 4 to 5 2023

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U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd AustinUnited States (US) Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin was on a two-day visit to India from  June 4  to 5, 2023, to strengthen bilateral defence cooperation between both nations, especially in areas of transfer of critical technologies for co-development of military hardware.

  • It is Defence Secretary Austin’s second visit to India and his previous trip to India was held in March 2021.

-Discussions on Defense Procurement Agreements 

i.Union Minister Rajnath Singh, Ministry of Defence, Government of India and Lloyd Austin discussed General Electric’s proposal to share technology with India for fighter jet engines and New Delhi’s plan to procure 31 MQ-9B armed drones at a cost of over USD 3 billion from US’s General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc.

ii.During the meeting between Rajnath Singh and Lloyd Austin both nations decided to launch negotiations for two crucial agreements related to the security of Supply Arrangement and a Reciprocal Defence Procurement in an effort to establish stable supply chains of arms and equipment.

iii.They have also praised the recent launch of a new Advanced Domains Defence Dialogue was and committed to expanding the scope of bilateral defence cooperation to encompass all domains.

iv.They also discussed the establishment of the India-US Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X), a new initiative to advance cutting-edge technology cooperation. 

  • The initiative would be launched on June 21, 2023, by the U.S.-India Business Council designed to complement existing government-to-government collaboration by promoting innovative partnerships between U.S. and Indian companies, investors, start-up accelerators, and academic research institutions

Note – Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to make an official state visit to Washington (US) later in June 2023.

-Roadmap for defence industrial cooperation 

i.On June 05, 2023, India and the US concluded a roadmap for defence industrial cooperation to fast-track technology tie-ups and co-production of military platforms such as air combat and land systems.

ii.The new framework for cooperation was finalised by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin during their bilateral talk.

iii.The new roadmap will “fast-track technology cooperation and co-production in air combat and land mobility systems; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; munitions; and the undersea domain.

iv.They have also decided to initiate negotiations on a framework for the security of supply arrangement and a reciprocal defence procurement agreement to promote long-term supply chain stability.

v.The US defence secretary also had separate talks with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. He exchanged views about regional and global security issues of concern, including maritime security in the Indian Ocean Region.

vi.US defence secretary welcomed India’s leadership role in the Quad Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Initiative (IPMDA).

-India-US Defence and Strategic Partnership

i.Both US and India have signed key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 which will allow their militaries to use each other’s bases for repair and replenishment of supplies.

ii.The two nations also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 which provides for interoperability between the two militaries and provides for the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.

iii.In October 2020, India and the US signed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties.

iv.The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.

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