NEW DELHI: The United States is interested in providing an entire fighter aircraft ecosystem to India, the country's Under-Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD), Ellen Lord said in New Delhi on Thursday.
Lord was in New Delhi for the ninth group meeting of the India-US Defence Technologies and Trade Initiative (DTTI), a pact signed between the two countries in 2012 for co-development and joint manufacturing of defence products.
"With the fighter jet programme, we are very, very interested in providing an entire fighter aircraft ecosystem to India where we not only bring in aircraft but also bring in training and sustainment for the whole lifecycle which we believe we can offer to the Indian government," said Lord.
Lord also said that a project for co-developing jet engines under the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group between the two countries has been suspended right now.
"We could not come to an understanding as to what exportable technology would be useful to Indians. That being said, there is an enormous amount of aircraft technology on which we could work on together," Lord added.
She said a variety of projects are under discussion between the two countries under the DTTI which include three short-term projects, two mid-term projects and two long-term projects. These projects range from small unmanned aerial systems to light weight small arms technology and the Virtual Augmented Mixed Reality for Aircraft Maintenance (VAMRAM) system.
Addressing a roundtable in New Delhi, she announced that the US and India have agreed to a joint statement of intent (SOI) that will deepen defence technology cooperation, and inter-operability consistent with the shared national security interests and national laws of both countries.
"Further, the SOI outlines the need for detailed planning and measurable progress on specific short, middle, and long term DTTI projects that are identified in the document. This demonstrates how DTTI is making progress and that both sides are fully committed to it," she said.
During her visit to New Delhi, the US Defense Under-Secretary co-chaired the ninth DTTI joint group meeting with Secretary (Defence Production) Subash Chandra and also met top officials including Secretary (Defence) Dr Ajay Kumar and chief of the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) Dr G Satheesh Reddy.
Lord asserted that India and the US have moved forward with the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that was entered into between the two nations in the year 2012.
"The US government granted India Strategic Trade Authority Tier 1 designation last August, providing India with greater supply-chain efficiency by allowing US companies to export a greater range of dual-use and high-technology items to India under streamlined processes. This grants India the same authorization as NATO allies Japan, South Korea, and Australia," she said.
She said the DTTI has gradually begun making progress though there have been frustrations with the initiative in the past.
"First, we've come a long way since we started the Joint Working Group (JWG) format in 2015. The JWG co-chairs are working hard to show progress on current projects and identify new ones. The technologies that they are discussing are significant; things such as virtual augmented reality, air-launched UAS, networked operations, brand new weapon and light-weight ammo designs. This week we accomplished several very important things that I feel are foundational to future DTTI success. Next, we agreed to a near-term timeline to complete a DTTI Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that will guide us as we try to coordinate projects under two different systems," she said.
Lord further said that India and the US have identified the upcoming 2+2 meeting in December this year in Washington DC as a near-term opportunity to finalize the SOP.