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India's $3 billion defence deal with the US — everything we know so far

India's $3 billion defence deal with the US — everything we know so far

  • US President Donald Trump finalised two arms deals worth $3 billion today with India today.
  • One is for six Apache attack helicopters worth $800 million and the other is for 24 MH-60 Romeo anti-submarine warfare helicopters worth $2.6 billion.
  • However, he made no mention of NASAMS-III, an anti-missile air defence for New Delhi.
The US and India just signed three key pacts and a $3 billion arms deal. The Indian Armed Forces will be acquiring six Apache attack helicopters worth $800 million and 24 MH-60 Romeo anti-submarine warfare helicopters worth $2.6 billion from the US.

"Earlier today we expanded our defence cooperation with agreements for India to purchase more than $3 billion of advanced American military equipment, including Apache and MH-60 Romeo helicopters — finest in the world. These will enhance our joint defence capabilities," said US President Donald Trump during a joint statement today afternoon.

Defence has always been a significant part of the bilateral ties between India and the US. India has the most number of defence exercises with the US. According to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, this has led to "unprecedented growth" in the interoperability between the armed forces of the two nations.

Modi also announced that the two countries will be using the same approach to cooperate on counter-terrorism and the war on drugs.

"A decision has been made to hold agents of terror responsible for their actions. President Trump has also presented a way better our chances in the fight against the drugs and opioid crisis. Drug trafficking, narco-terrorism, and organised crime are grave concerns in today’s world. Earlier today, we have settled on a new mechanism to track such activity," said Modi.

Things still left undecided
It’s still uncertain whether India will buy NASAMS-III — an anti-missile air defence system that acts as an invisible shield over the country’s national capital, New Delhi.

In the past, India has expressed concerns over its high cost. There is also uncertainty whether the new US system will be able to communicate with the systems that are already in place including India’s own Akash.

"The increasing defence and security ties between the US and India are an integral part of the strategic partnership between the two countries."

Sources told ET a new Indian Ocean Cooperation and Training exercise — based on the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise — may also be announced.

India is a market and the US wants to strike a bargain
Between 2013 to 2017, arms imports from the US to India grew by over 550% according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). India was one of the top five military spenders in 2018 and the US recognises it as a big market.

The Trump administration continues to heavily promote the sale of defence systems to India. Today too, Trump made it clear that the US makes the best weapons in the world. "We make the greatest weapons ever made: planes, missiles, rockets, ships. We make the best. And we're dealing now with India. But this includes advanced air defence systems and armed and unarmed aerial vehicles," he said.

Neelam Deo, the director and co-founder of Gateway House, believes India needs the technology. The armed forces are in dire need of modernisation that the domestic arms industry isn’t able to keep up.

However, more arms deals aren’t necessarily the ideal solution for the domestic defence industry. Instead, it would benefit the Indian market more if the US could share its expertise instead for India to build more arms technology indigenously.

The Indo-US relationship is also integral to the concept of the Indo-Pacific. The quadrilateral grouping of US, Japan, India and Australia hit a new high last year when it was upgraded to a ministerial-level last year.

See also:
Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump announce 'comprehensive global strategic partnership' in a joint conference

From army helicopters to trade deal — Donald Trump's holding out carrots for India

Namaste Trump: Full text of Donald Trump's speech at Ahmedabad's Motera stadium


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