The United States and India seek to build the architecture of a durable defense partnership. Everything we have accomplished, including the New Framework for the Defense Relationship signed by Secretary Rumsfeld and Minister Mukherjee last June, is geared toward accomplishing this goal. Since then, we have continued to build the foundation for defense cooperation through the U.S.-India Disaster Relief Initiative (announced during Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Washington last July), the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Agreement, and the Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation, and we will soon conclude a logistics support agreement.
Examples of the progress in our defense cooperation are many. The United States and India cooperated closely in providing aid to tsunami victims in Southeast Asia in December 2004-January 2005. In January 2006, the U.S. Navy rescued Indian mariners whose ship had been hijacked by Somali pirates. And, in the past year U.S. and Indian Armed Forces have broken new ground with successfully more advanced and precedent-setting air, Army and naval exercises.
Defense trade and technology cooperation are vital components of our defense relationship. These will serve key objectives of our strategic partnership by helping to build ties among our defense establishments and industries and to develop interoperability among our armed forces. Defense technology cooperation will contribute to strengthened military capabilities and will also result in economic benefits through expanded trade.
It is our goal to help meet India’s needs in the defense realm, and to provide important capabilities and technologies that India seeks. We are on a path to accomplish this. Where only a few years ago, no one would have talked about the prospects for a major U.S.-India defense deal, today the prospects are promising, whether in the realm of combat aircraft, helicopters, maritime patrol aircraft, or naval vessels.
The next step is to turn the talk of prospective sales into reality. The United States is committed to working with India to do this.
We are aware of past Indian concerns about reliability of supply. One of the key elements of the close partnership we have developed with India is a clearer understanding of converging strategic interests, and mutual respect of each other's priorities. We are committed to addressing this priority of India—the United States intends to be a reliable partner. It is in the U.S. interest to do so.
We see the Multi-Role Combat Aircraft competition as a prime opportunity to demonstrate the advances and transformation of the U.S.-India relationship in the area of defense trade in general and reliability, in particular.
The United States is committed to providing state-of-the art fighter aircraft in response to India’s requirements for a multi-role combat aircraft. We have indicated our intention to offer both the F-16 and the F-18, both combat proven aircraft. As additional capabilities enter our force, we will work with the government of India to make them available. Our proposal will also address India’s interest in technology transfer and indigenous co-production.
For more information consult the fact sheet on U.S. - India Defense Relationship and Indo-U.S. Framework for Maritime Security Cooperation, located on DefenseLink at http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2006/d20060302us-indiadefenserelationship.pdf and http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Mar2006/d200600302indo-usframeworkformaritimesecuritycooperation.pdf