G-20 Leader’s Summit: A New Chapter in Indo-US Defence Cooperation

The newfound personal chemistry between President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave a new twist to the G-20 leader's summit and added a new chapter in Indo-US defence cooperation. The summit not only provided a forum to discuss shared security interests and concerns but also helped to build trust and understanding, which are essential for any successful defence partnership

By Neeraj Mahajan

Opinion

The close interaction between President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. and Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the sidelines of the recently concluded G20 Summit has leveraged the United States and India as each other’s closest partners in the 21st century with hope, ambition, and confidence.

In a move with far-reaching consequences, President Biden reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member, and, welcomed India’s candidature for the UNSC non-permanent seat in 2028-29.

In yet another significant development, the United States reaffirmed its support for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group and committed to continue engagement with like-minded partners to advance this goal.

Adding a new twist to the Indo-US Defence Partnership Prime Minister Modi and President Biden reaffirmed their commitment to deepen and diversify the cooperation in new and emerging domains such as space and AI, and accelerated defence industrial collaboration.

Space Exploration

President Biden congratulated Prime Minister Modi and the scientists at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on Chandrayaan-3’s historic landing at the south polar region of the Moon, as well as the successful launch of Aditya-L1 – India’s first solar mission.

In a move with far-reaching consequences, President Biden reaffirmed his support for a reformed UN Security Council with India as a permanent member, and, welcomed India’s candidature for the UNSC non-permanent seat in 2028-29

One of the obvious and most important outcomes of this relationship is a growing cooperation in earth and space technologies. Both NASA and ISRO are working to develop the strategic framework for human spaceflight by the end of 2023. Towards this end, NASA will provide advanced training to Indian astronauts at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas to mount a joint effort to the International Space Station in 2024.

USA has delivered the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) satellite to ISRO’s U.R. Rao Satellite Centre in Bengaluru, India, and is looking forward to NISAR’s 2024 launch from India.

India and the United States also intend to increase coordination on planetary defence to protect planet Earth and space assets from the impact of asteroids and near-Earth objects, including US support for India’s participation in asteroid detection and tracking via the Minor Planet Center.

Welcoming India’s Space Policy-2023, President Biden, called for enhanced collaboration between the US and India to address export controls and facilitate technology transfer. President Biden deeply appreciated India’s signing of the Artemis Accords, which focuses on a common vision of space exploration for the benefit of all humankind.

Indo-US defence collaboration

In what seemed to be a marked departure from the past, the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to build resilient technology value chains and linking defence industrial ecosystems. Both Modi and Biden recommitted their administrations to promoting policies and adapting regulations that facilitate greater technology sharing, co-development, and co-production opportunities between Indian and US industry, government and academic institutions. They also welcomed continued engagement through an inter-agency monitoring mechanism under the auspices of the bilateral Strategic Trade Dialogue, launched in June 2023.The leaders welcomed the completion of the Congressional Notification process on 29 August 2023 and the commencement of negotiations for a commercial agreement between GE Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL) to manufacture GE F-414 jet engines in India, and recommitted to work collaboratively and expeditiously to support the advancement of this unprecedented co-production and technology transfer proposal.

One of the obvious and most important outcome of this relationship is a growing cooperation in earth and space technologies. Both NASA and ISRO are working to develop the strategic framework for human spaceflight by the end of 2023

The leaders applauded the conclusion of a second Master Ship Repair Agreement, with the most recent agreement signed by the US Navy and Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited in August 2023.  Both sides recommitted to advancing India’s emergence as a hub for the maintenance and repair of forward-deployed US Navy assets and other aircraft and vessels.  The leaders also welcomed further commitments from US industry to invest more in India’s maintenance, repair, and overhaul capabilities and facilities for aircraft.

The leaders commended the India-U.S. Defence Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) team for establishing a robust collaboration agenda to harness the innovative work of the US and Indian defence sectors to address shared security challenges. INDUS-X convened the inaugural Academia Start-up Partnership at IIT Kanpur, with the participation of Penn State University, and initiated the Joint Accelerator Program for Indian Startups, through a workshop led by US accelerator Hacking 4 Allies (H4x) and IIT Hyderabad in August 2023. Both sides also welcomed the announcement by the Indian Ministry of Defence’s Innovations for Defence Excellence and the US Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit to launch two joint challenges, which will invite start-ups to develop solutions to shared defence technology challenges.

President Biden welcomed the issuance of a Letter of Request from the Ministry of Defence of India to procure 31 General Atomics MQ-9B (16 Sky Guardian and 15 Sea Guardian) remotely piloted aircraft and their associated equipment, which will enhance the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities of India’s armed forces across all domains.

Reiterating the importance of nuclear energy as a necessary resource to meet our nation’s climate, energy transition, and energy security needs, Prime Minister Modi and President Biden welcomed intensified consultations between the relevant entities on both sides to expand opportunities for facilitating India-US collaboration in nuclear energy, including in the development of next-generation small modular reactor technologies in a collaborative mode.

-The writer is a seasoned media professional with over three decades of experience in print, electronic, and web media. He is presently Editor of Taazakhabar News. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda