As India looks West for military hardware, US sends largest ever delegation to Def-Expo-2020

IDD Bureau

The United States delegation to Def-Expo2020 will be largest. And the reason is simple; India-US bilateral defence trade moves northward reaching $18 billion in 2019. A decade ago, in 2008, it was less than $1 billion. 

The increased bilateral trade is increasingly becoming visible too. In all,14 US made platforms, the highest number of US platforms to take part in a Republic Day flypast was part of 41 aircraft line-up. The Chinook CH47 – the US-made heavy-lift helicopter and Apache 64E – the US-made attack helicopter – both inducted in 2019 made their public debut in India at the 70th Republic Day fly-past this January 26. India has also bought the US-made M777- the light towed howitzers as well.

Recently, India and the US signed the crucial Industrial Security Annex (ISA) ahead of the 2+2 ministerial-level dialogue in the US on December 18. The ISA paves 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. In addition, two sides agreed to operationalize the COMCASA –a communication sharing agreement – that will allow wider joint operations of the forces.

Reflecting the growth in defence trade between the two countries, the United States is sending the largest delegation to the Def-Expo-2020; that begins in Lucknow from 4 February. The delegations are primarily from the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) and the US-India Business Council (USIBC). The latter is sending a 22 member to the Defence Expo 2020

The USIBC comprises heavyweights like by the Dr Vivek Lall, Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at Lockheed Martin and Dennis Swanson, Vice President, International Sales, Global Sales and Marketing, and Defense, Space & Security, Boeing Global Services and David Sutton Director for the Indo-Pacific, Lockheed Martin International.  The USIBC is a Council that serves as the premier voice of industry and creates connections between businesses and governments across both countries. comprising top global companies operating across the United States, India, and the Indo-Pacific.

“Defense trade is a key part of the U.S-India commercial partnership,” said USIBC President Nisha Biswal. “With the signing of the ISA and agreements to operationalize the Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) in December, we anticipate opportunities for deeper industry collaboration and DefExpo is an important venue for strengthening these ties.”

On the Defence Expo-2020, David Sutton said, “we are encouraged by positive developments in U.S.-India relations, especially on the defence-industrial partnership front. With a presence of over 30 years in country, Lockheed Martin is privileged to have contributed to Indian defence operations as well as the evolution of indigenous defence manufacturing. We’re excited to be back at DefExpo and showcase our ‘Make in India’ legacy and present-day activities to the largest gathering of defence and aerospace partners in the country. We look forward to expanded collaboration with local industry to advance India’s strategic security and industrial capabilities.”

In a recently issued statement, the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum said, “the delegation will comprise of senior representatives of top U.S. companies including, BAE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, UTC, GE, General Atomics, Rolls Royce, Honeywell, among others…(and will )“discuss areas for collaboration in the US-India defence corridor. The delegation will discuss how US companies have contributed to ‘Make in India’, help India achieve  self-sustainment in defence manufacturing, opportunities to empower and enable the Indian Armed Forces, enhance interoperability and to discuss the challenges being faced by US companies in India.”

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