US and India to boost defense and technology cooperation as China threat grows
The United States and India are taking steps to strengthen their defense partnership, officials said Tuesday, the latest sign of cooperation between the two countries in the face of an increasingly assertive China.
The plans, which came after two-day meetings in Washington between government and business officials from the two countries, include greater cooperation in military-related industries and operational coordination in the Indo-Pacific.
According to a White House fact sheet, the most important collaborations are in the development of jet engines and military munitions technology. In particular, it said the US government would seek to expedite a review of an application by US manufacturer General Electric to build jet engines in India for use on domestic Indian aircraft.
Operationally, the US and Indian military would try to build maritime security and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capacities, according to the information sheet.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks told India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval that “building alliances and partnerships for the Pentagon in what she says is an “increasingly competitive strategic environment” is a top priority,” according to a Defense Department statement .
Hicks said building the partnerships is a key goal of the US 2022 National Defense Strategy, which describes China as a “growing multi-domain threat.”
While the US watched China build up its forces in areas near Taiwan and key US ally Japan, India’s forces clashed with Chinese along the Line of Actual Control, the ill-defined border between the two nations high in the Himalayas troops together.
The US and India, along with Japan and Australia, are members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – known as the Quad – an informal security-focused group that dates back to the early 2000s. It has become more active in recent years to counter China’s reach and territorial claims in the Indo-Pacific.
On the sidelines of a Quad Summit in Tokyo last May, US President Joe Biden and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the US-India Critical and Emerging Technologies Initiative (iCET).
This week’s meetings were the first of the program and brought together dozens of government officials, industry CEOs and senior academics from both countries.
In addition to defense technologies, Washington and New Delhi are working to “expand international cooperation in a number of areas — including artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and advanced wireless communications,” the White House fact sheet said.
A key industrial part of the meetings was an agreement to develop the semiconductor industry in India, which has the educated and skilled workforce needed to become a major player in the construction of these key components.
In addition, the two countries pledged to support the development of next-generation telecommunications in India, including advanced 5G and 6G cellular technologies.
Washington and New Delhi also agreed to improve cooperation in space, including supporting India in astronaut development, its commercial space sector and its role in defending the planet.