US eyes defence deals as Biden begins India visit today

Jul 22 2013, 11:18 IST
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SummaryThere is a perception that India is a lucrative defence market.

Even as IAF chief NAK Browne leaves for the US to take the delivery of C-17s from Boeing, US vice-president Joe Biden is reaching on Monday with industry representatives, including defence manufacturers to push for more orders from the Indian armed forces. The US vice-president visit comes at a time when the government has just relaxed the foreign direct investment (FDI) norms in defence production subject to certain riders.

Noting India and US have built a strong foundation in defence cooperation and sales in the past few years, an official said Biden will talk about "how we can build an even stronger edifice and deepen cooperation going forward".

“We have made some suggestions about areas in which we think co-production and co-development would make sense for both countries, and we just need to sort through the practicalities of that with our Indian counterparts," said a senior US official. On the eve of Biden's maiden trip to India, a top US naval commander in Washington DC spoke of the “solid and growing” ties between the navies of the two countries.

The IAF chief is on a four-day visit to the US on the invitation of General Mark A Welsh III, chief of staff of the USAF and is also scheduled to hold talks with senior military leaders of the country, including general Martin E Dempsey, the chairman, joint chiefs of staff, General Herbert J "Hawk" Carlisle, Commander, Pacific Air Forces (PACAF).

According to Deba R Mohanty, the chairman and CEO of INDICIA Research & Advisory, “There is a perception that India is a lucrative defence market. It is true. But, this does not translate into a healthy partnership to flourish. This is because both the countries have differing sets of rules of engagement in defence trade, which are often ill-defined, restrictive, protective, superfluous checks and balances, inadequate understanding on the part of stakeholders about each others ground realities. So, when we talk of deepening relationship, we must be aware of ground realities. Both the countries need to iron out differences, a process which will naturally lead them into a deepening strategic partnership."

Ahead of the visit, admiral Samuel Locklear, the commander of the US Pacific Command who was in India as part of the US delegation led by secretary of state John Kerry, said, “We are on a good upward trajectory with our military-to-military relationships at the service levels, in particular with

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