The Pentagon has approved two previously-stalled technology transfer licenses to India and in an unprecedented move has set aside USD 20 million for strategic cooperative science and technology projects with New Delhi.
While the decision in this regard was made just before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit, the announcement was made by a top Pentagon official during the annual gala of the US India Business Council (USIBC) on Thursday.
“What is critical now is that we agree on some projects that we can use to continue building our relationship. Good intentions must lead to tangible results, or the momentum we have built will fade,” said Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics during his address at the event.
Kendall, who is Pentagon’s point person for the India-US Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), however, did not give details about the two licenses approved by the US.
He said: “I have also set aside USD 20 million for strategic cooperative science and technology projects with India, something we have done with no other country.”
Kendall, who accompanied Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel to India this summer, was highly appreciative of the developments and policy changes in India.
“It was very clear to Secretary Hagel and me that a new wind was blowing in India – the monsoon had changed direction and intensity. Everyone we met, at all levels, was highly interested in opportunities for cooperation,” Kendall said.
He said: “Modi made it clear to Secretary Hagel that India was very interested in expanding its defence industry and increasing the level of technology that could be developed and manufactured in India. This sentiment was repeated at every level. The desire we felt to inject new momentum into this relationship and DTTI was echoed by those across the table.”
Kendall said he and his Indian counterpart Mohan Kumar have agreed to establish a written framework for DTTI and to meet in person every six months.
“We also agreed that India would work to finalise approval of the renewal of the Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Memorandum of Agreement (RDT&E MoU) for signature during my November visit,” he said.
The two have also agreed to continue efforts to identify specific co-development and co-production opportunities and that Acting Assistant Secretary for Research and Engineering Al Shaffer would continue to work with Scientific Adviser to the Minister of Defence to develop specific Science and Technology Projects.
“I believe both the US and Indian DTTI teams concluded our meetings feeling energised, focused and optimistic about future cooperation,” he said.
Kendall refuted the notion that DTTI is an attempt to sell defence products to India, saying it is “just one facet of an initiative to build a deeper, closer, and broader relationship with one of the most important countries on earth.”