The U.S. will sell predator Guardian drones to India. Narendra Modi and Donald Trump who held bilateral talks in Washington on Tuesday pledged to deepen defence and security co-operation.
The U.S. and India look forward to working together on advanced defence equipment and technology at a level commensurate with that of America's closest allies and partners, said a joint statement issued after the India U.S. Summit at the White House.
"President Trump and Prime Minister Modi pledged to deepen defence and security cooperation, building on the United States' recognition of India as a Major Defence Partner. Reflecting the partnership, the U.S. has offered for India's consideration the sale of Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial Systems, which would enhance India's capabilities and promote shared security interests," the joint statement added.
Resolving to expand their maritime security cooperation, they announced their intention to build on the implementation of their "White Shipping" data sharing arrangement, which enhances collaboration on the maritime domain awareness.
Trump welcomed Modi's strong support for the U.S. to join as an Observer in the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium.
Noting the importance of the upcoming MALABAR naval exercise (involving the U.S., Japan and India), both leaders said they were determined to expand their engagements on shared maritime objectives and to explore new exercises.
President Trump and I have also spoken about strengthening bilateral defence technology and our trade and manufacturing partnership, which we believe will be mutually beneficial to us.Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi At The Joint Briefing
“We also discussed international issues and our common strategic interests in this country," he said.
"Our militaries are working every day to enhance cooperation between our military forces, and next month they will join together with the Japanese navy to take part in the largest maritime exercise ever conducted in the vast Indian Ocean,” Trump said.
The U.S. is said to have cleared the sale of 22 predator Guardian drones, according to the media reports. The unmanned aerial device will help boost the Indian Navy's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
The deal is estimated to be worth $2-3 billion, according to the media reports quoted above, adding that the decision was communicated to the Indian government and the manufacturer by the U.S. State Department.
"On defence cooperation, there was a sense that combination of convergence and regular exchanges on policy, the fact that today we are major partners in exercises with each other, all these underline the fact that India and the US recognise each other key defence partners," Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar told reporters at a news conference.
"This was really an occasion for us to send a message that India was a reliable dependable partner, that was fully reciprocated on the American side," he said.
Bilateral defence trade between India and the U.S. now stands at close to $19 billion, according to statement issued by the White House.
"If selected, U.S.’ offer to sell F-16 and F/A-18 fighter aircraft to India would represent the most significant defence co-operation between the U.S. and India to date," the White House added.
According to the White House, the United States remains a reliable provider of advanced defence articles in support of India's military modernisation efforts.
United States-sourced defence articles, including the Sea Guardian Unmanned Aerial System, Apache attack helicopters, and C-17 aircraft will further enhance the capabilities of the Indian Armed Forces and provide additional opportunities for inter-operability.
The US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) remains the premier forum for deepening collaboration on defence co-development and co-production, it said.
The seven DTTI Joint Working Groups continue to discuss a range of technologies and platforms for potential co- development, including India's participation in the Future Vertical Lift program, it added.
DTTI representatives met most recently in April.