ISA widens US industry footprint in India

COMCASA to be operationalised

IDD Bureau:

India and the US have signed the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) and agreed  to operationlize COMCASA –a  communication sharing agreement – that will allow wider joint operations of the forces.

The ISA was inked by the two sides ahead of the 2+2 ministerial-level dialogue  in the US on December 18 local time. It will pave the way for private US companies to share high-end technology with Indian companies. In return New Delhi has pledged to protect and safeguard the technology and information by applying its laws.

from left. Secretary of Defense Dr Mark T Esper, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo & External affairs Minister Dr S Jai Shankar at an informal moment at the 2+2 dialogue

 “We have been able to sign the Industrial Security Annex before the 2+2 Dialogue. (This) will provide the necessary framework for pursuing co-development and co-production linkages in the defence manufacturing sector, ” Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said in his opening remarks to the media after the dialogue.

It is expected to be game changer in the Indo-US ties and act as a precursor for the complete realization of the defence technology and trade initiative  (DTTI) between the two countries. This  includes  three joint projects on air-launched unmanned airborne systems (UAS), lightweight small arms technology, and innovations in the field of intelligence, surveillance, targeting and reconnaissance (ISTAR).

For New Delhi this can be a leg up for indigenous defence industry which it aims to kick start. For the US, that has already done US $ 15 billion worth of military equipment trade with India in the past ten years, ISA opens opportunities to cement a place to partner New Delhi in its expected $ 100 billion expansion plan over the next few years.  India has an annual $ 10 billion or more ‘modernisation’ budget. 

Expressing the optimism at the ISA Rajnath Singh said: “We hope that this will enable smooth transfer of classified technology and information between private entities of USA and India”.

Giving the US perspective on the matter US Secretary Defense, Dr Mark T. Esper said  “ our defence, trade, and technology ties continue to grow”. The ISA will facilitate collaboration between our defense industries by supporting the secure transfer of key information and technology, Dr Esper added.

“Have also finalized three agreements under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, which will enhance our ability to co-produce and co-develop critical technologies,” The US Secretary said.

India wants US defence companies to increase investment for make in India

India’s priority is to take this partnership beyond the acquisition of platforms and equipment to significant transfer of defence technology and increased investment by US  Defence companies in India under the “Make in India”, the flagship programme of the Indian Government .

We are also working to encourage greater collaboration between defence manufacturing sectors in India and the US:”

Rajnath Singh

Since the 2+2 dialogue conducted 2018, the two sides have progressed in areas of defence. An extensive engagement has yielded important results with some milestones having been achieved. Some of these include setting up the hotline between the Indian Defence Minister and the U.S. Secretary of Defense. The two national in November this year  carried out the first tri-service exercise ‘Tiger Triumph’. The  Indian Naval head quarters and the US INDOPACOM have been linked. India has posted an officer at NAVCENT in Bahrain.

US origin platforms in The Indian stable have been provided with secure communication capability and the US has installed CENTRIXS (Combined Enterprise Regional Information Exchange System) kits. These kits facilitate encrypted communications between the navies.

The defence policy group dialogue has been revived after a gap of almost four years. India has extended an invitation to the United States to nominate a liaison officer for the international fusion center in India.

Indian Defence Ministry delegation (right) led by Rajnath Singh at the talks with US counterparts led by Dr Mark T Esper.

During this year’s dialogue the two sides agreed to work together to operationalize COMCASA, which was signed during the last 2+2 meeting. Necessary steps will include opening the COMSEC account.

The two countries now have greater information sharing, expanded defense trade, placement of liaison officers, and defense enabling agreements, a media note  of the US State Department said.

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