India, US Likely to Sign Deal at Upcoming 2+2 Dialogue

Bilateral

New Delhi: India and the US are likely to ink a deal for the participation of aviation majors in the contest to manufacture and supply 114 combat jets to Indian Air Force at the upcoming 2+2 dialogue in Washington on December 19.

A key Indo-US industry body feels that the best way to go ahead with procurement — valued at about $20 billion — is through a government-to-government deal to enable Make in India and technology-sharing.

The upcoming dialogue, being led by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Dr S Jaishankar, will focus on renewed efforts to take forward the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) to include drone warfare, light-weight arms and virtual reality and augmented reality (VR-AR).

It is expected that the two sides will sign the Industrial Security Annex (ISA) that will enable transfer of technology by a US firm to its Indian partners in the private sector. While several US companies, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing, are already working on defence products with Indian partners — mostly to meet offset obligations — the projects are primarily of the ‘build to print’ kind.

The ISA, sources said, would enable transfer of key high-end technology pieces regulated under the US law and would have safeguards to ensure that the information is protected under Indian law.

The industry forum shares the perspective of several global aviation majors that the complex plan to build 114 fighter jets after a selection process would be best served under a government-to government deal that would assure transfer of technology.

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