A team led by the Secretary, Defense Production, G Mohan Kumar is in the United States, preparing ground for the visit of Defense Minister Arun Jaitley to the US in October and the expected conclusion of a new Defense Framework Agreement between the two countries.
This trip also comes just before the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be visiting New York for the UN General Assembly and meetings with the Obama administration.
The team includes Deputy Chief IDS Vice Admiral Girish Luthra, Director General (Acquisitions) AR Sihag, and the Director of International Cooperation at DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) Dr Gopal Bhushan. Attachés of the Indian Air Force (IAF), navy and army from the embassy in Washington DC are also taking part in discussions to take the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) forward and discuss terms for the Defense Framework Agreement.
While former National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon was earlier the India co-chair of the DTTI, it now appears the role has fallen upon the Secretary, Defense Production G Mohan Kumar.
The US has offered India cooperation on development, co-production and trade with respect to a number of weapons systems as part of the DTTI.
US officials recently said their Department of Defense has received 1,900 applications for export, transfer of technology or licensing of weapons systems to India and have denied only 17 of them.
As part of DTTI, discussions have been on to co-develop or produce systems like the Raytheon Javelin anti-tank missile system, BAE Systems’ Mk 45 naval gun, Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin MH-60R naval helicopters and also surface-to-air missiles.
The two countries are working to put together a revised Defense Framework Agreement by November, originally signed in 2005 and due to expire next year. US Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall is expected to visit India in November. Kendall has been tasked to lead the US side on discussions on DTTI.
Jaitley will be visiting the US to attend an IMF meeting in his capacity as finance minister. But he also has meetings with the US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on his agenda. Hagel was in India in August.