The US has made a strong case for producing an American fighter jet under the Make in India initiative, a proposal that was discussed at length even during US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter’s farewell visit to New Delhi this week.
The mega project — India is looking for a partner to produce over 200 new fighter jets to replace its ageing MiG fleet — has the potential of creating jobs both in India as well as the US if done correctly, was the message conveyed from Washington.
India and the US are also looking to roll out a ‘signature’ joint development military project under the Defence Technology Transfer Initiative (DTTI) by the end of this year, though details are being kept under wraps as advanced negotiations are on.
While there have been questions on the future of the US offer to produce a combat plane in India after President elect Donald Trump’s stated position to keep manufacturing units within the country, the view in Washington is that the economics of the deal could produce new job opportunities in both nations.
The two sides also discussed at length India’s designation as a major defence partner of the US, with the message being given that New Delhi would have easier access to technology and lesser obstacles on licensing issues with the new status.
While several initiatives to take the bilateral defence relationship forward were discussed, of particular interest were talks on sharing of tactics and training by the special forces of the two nations. India has been keen to train with US special forces that have considerable experience in conducting stealth missions deep in enemy territory.
A proposal for the sale of advanced unarmed Predator UAVs is also under consideration but the pact that is described as having seen the most forward movement is the joint working group of aircraft carrier technology.