WASHINGTON: In a sign of increasing trustworthiness, the US has updated its policy on gas-turbine engine technology transfer to India to expand cooperation in production and design of sensitive jet engine components.
US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter informed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar of the decision during the latter’s visit here.
As a result of this policy update, Carter exuded confidence that the US will be able to expand cooperation in production and design of sensitive jet engine components.
Carter and Parrikar look forward to US companies working with their Indian counterparts to submit transfer requests that will benefit from this updated policy, said a joint statement issued after a meeting between two leaders at the Pentagon yesterday.
During the meeting, the two leaders discussed ways and means to move the ambitious Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) forward.
Expressing satisfaction with DTTI progress to date, the two committed themselves to identifying additional projects for possible co-development and co-production of high technology items that meet the transformational intent of DTTI, the joint statement said.
Parrikar and Carter commended positive discussions at the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC), especially in the area of Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE), and look forward to continued progress to be achieved at the second meeting of the JWGACTC in February 2016 in India.
They further expressed satisfaction that the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group (JETJWG), which met this week in Bengaluru, had concluded its ‘Terms of Reference’ and had productive discussion on cooperation in this area.
In an interaction with the media, Carter identified DTTI as one very important step in realising the potential of the India-US defence partnership. DTTI, he noted, fosters technology cooperation, works to build industry-to-industry ties, and identifies opportunities for the co-development and co-production of defence systems.
Carter said he and Parrikar discussed the progress that has been made towards cooperation on jet engines, and aircraft carrier design and construction, as well as opportunities to collaborate on additional projects of interest, which will also further Prime Minister Modi’s Make in India policy.
Parrikar said their desire is to further collaborate in the higher-end technologies within the framework of DTTI.
“The assurance I have, and I am confident of that India is placed at a level which would ensure that red tapism is cut. I think this is the biggest take home one can get. We have got a very clear promise and we have been experiencing it that our issues are fast tracked,” he told reporters.
Parrikar said some US companies have shown interest in setting up manufacturing base in India for fighter jets for which India has asked the Pentagon if there is any advance clearance system from their side.
“They (US) are very positive on that,” the Minister said adding that the US side has indicated that pre-approval could be considered on all such proposals coming from companies like Boeing and Lockheed.
Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall said the DTTI has become a key part of the defence relationship between the Indian Ministry of Defence and the US Department of Defence.
As many as 17 new ideas for cooperation under the DTTI are also being discussed.
The US proposed 11 new ideas for possible cooperation while India has proposed six new proposals.
“We have identified many new areas for cooperative research and development, and both sides are committed to continue to exchange ideas in the search for additional projects for possible co-development and co-production that meet the spirit of DTTI,” he said.
Both sides said that progress has been made on the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) pathfinder projects which include the Raven mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), “roll-on, roll-off” mission modules for C-130J aircraft, Mobile Electric Hybrid Power Sources (MEHPS) and Next Generation Protective Ensemble (NGPE) for soldiers.
There has also been significant engagement through the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group (JETJWG) as both governments have recently signed their Terms of Reference (TOR) to start work. The Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC) has also moved forward on an Information Exchange Agreement that includes the US thought process behind aircraft carrier design/ configurations and an Indian Navy Request for Information for aircraft design consultancy.
Meanwhile, the US defence industry has welcomed efforts by the Indian Government to make necessary changes in its so as to facilitate increased defence manufacturing in the country.
Representatives of the top US defence companies expressed their view during an interaction with Parrikar, said US India Business Council (USIBC), host of the meeting.
“We are encouraged by the measures enacted by the Government of India earlier this month to promote greater ease of doing business and partnership with Indian industry,” said Orlando Carvalho, executive vice president Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
“We are excited at the opportunities for joint development and production that will take the US-India defense industry relationship to new levels and make the aerospace and defense sector a key part of the goal to grow our bilateral trade to $500 billion,” he said.
Textron is pleased to see movement that directly improves and promotes its ability to do business with each other, said Ellen Lord, president and CEO Textron Systems and member of USIBC Board of Directors.
“Textron Systems’ recent agreement on a mutually advantageous offset program is a testament to the progress and success we have made with India. Textron Systems will continue to support Make in India and looks forward to continued success in a long term relationship,” she said.
“Boeing’s recently announced joint venture in India to produce aero structures for the AH-64 Apache helicopter and to compete for additional manufacturing work packages across Boeing platforms is a clear demonstration of Boeing’s long term commitment to the Make in India campaign,” said Prat Kumar, president for Boeing India.
“The world will be able to access components and equipment that has been jointly designed, developed, and produced by the best from the American and Indian defence enterprise. This speaks volumes about the nature of US-India bilateral ties,” he said.
In his remarks, Parrikar said in the past one year, there have been sincere attempts from the Indian Ministry of Defence to change the mindset.
“Numerous positive changes have been incorporated through the revision of the offset policy and the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP),” he said.
“The US government needs to reciprocate positively for technology transfer approvals and leverage opportunities created by the procedural changes in Indian defence procurement,” Parrikar added