Journal : PLA Daily (Chinese) Date : Author : Mu Xiaoming Page No. : 07

A glance at the progress of US-India defense cooperation

■ Mu Xiaoming.

In recent years, there are frequent high-level interaction between the United States and India, joint military exercises have increased and military trade cooperation has been strengthened. Bilateral defense relations are developing to become “all-round and multi-field”.

High-level interactions are becoming more frequent. In January 2015, Obama visited India and participated in India’s Republic Day celebrations, becoming the first US President to be invited to participate in India’s Republic Day parade. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi broke diplomatic conventions by personally going to the airport to receive him. The two countries issued a Joint Statement—the U.S.-India joint strategic vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean region, and renewed the US-India Defense Framework Agreement. Modi has twice visited the US— in last September and this year June. Both the countries have made clear the new orientation of India-US relations, India becoming a “major defense partner” of the US and the two countries becoming “premier partners in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions.” In addition, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter also visited India twice—last year and this year, formally signing a new version of Framework Agreement on Defense Cooperation. It has defined 15 areas of defense cooperation, which includes simplication of transfer of defence technology by the US to India and strengthening of military cooperation in production. Last March, the two countries also held the first Space Security Dialogue.

Joint military exercise mechanism. India is one of the non-allied countries of the US with which it conducts the maximum number of joint military exercises, the number of annual exercises and exchange activities reaching more than 50. In recent years, the scale of joint military exercises between the two countries has been continuously expanding, and the number of exercises has gradually increased. They have been developing to become institutionalized, substantial and normal. The US-India joint army exercise Yudh Abhyas”, the US-India “Malabar’ joint naval exercise, the US-India joint Air Force exercises “Cope India” and “Red Flag”, and US-India Special Forces “Vajra Prahar” joint training exercise; all these have already become institutionalized joint military exercises, becoming “stabilizers” and “engines” of military relations between the two countries. On the 10th of June in 2016, India, Japan and the US conducted “Malabar -2016” joint military exercise in the Western Pacific. In the increasingly tense situation in the South China Sea, shifting the exercise area to the Pacific and the entry of Japan was intriguing.

Military trade and military technology cooperation has been continuously expanding. According to Stockholm International Peace Institute statistics, from 2006 to 2015, India’s military spending has increased by 3 fold. From 2011 to 2015 India’s arms imports accounted for 14% of the entire world’s, becoming the world’s largest arms importer. India’s huge military market has also become a booster of US-India defense cooperation. Since 2008, India has purchased weapons and equipment worth 10 billion US dollars from the US, including 12 C-130 Hercules transport aircrafts, 8 P-8I anti-submarine patrol aircrafts and 10 C-17 Globemaster transport aircrafts. In 2013, India imported US $ 1.9 billion worth of military equipment from the US, making it the largest export market for US arms manufacturers. In 2014, the US sold 24 Harpoon anti-ship missiles to India, for a total cost of about 200 million US dollars. The two countries signed the Framework Agreement on Defense Cooperation in June, 2015, and gradually developing the “relationship of sale and purchase” in bilateral defense cooperation into a “joint research and development relationship”, which further promoted cooperation in the fields of transfer of defense technology and joint development high-end technologies like missile defence.

Shared bases and shared intelligence. India has a variety of terrain from ice-covered mountains to exceptionally hot deserts, while India’s bases and ports will make military operations in the Middle East and other strategic areas more convenient. To this end, the US military has been seeking to be able to use India’s bases, ports and military training sites, and conducted 12 years of negotiations with India. In August 2016, Defense Ministers of the two countries formally signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), allowing the two militaries to use each other’s land, sea and air bases for supplies, maintenance and rest. In addition, the two sides are also discussing the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA). As part of its efforts to deepen defense cooperation with India, the US has also proposed to establish systematized contacts between intelligence agencies of the two countries and expressed its willingness to share regional confidential information involving Afghanistan, Pakistan and China.

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