US envoy urges purchase of US arms for interoperability amongst “security partners” - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Stuff.

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Thursday, 6 February 2020

US envoy urges purchase of US arms for interoperability amongst “security partners”


By Ajai Shukla
Lucknow
Business Standard, 5th Feb 2020

US ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, has pitched strongly for India to buy American military equipment because, as security partners, it would be useful for India’s weaponry and command and communications networks to be interoperable with those of America’s.

“We believe that India must ultimately move toward systems that are interoperable with the equipment and networks of its security partners,” said Juster.

The US envoy was interacting with the media on the eve of Defexpo 2020, India’s premier defence systems exhibition, which will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday.

With Defexpo 2020 features an all-time high participation by US defence firms, Juster minced no words in urging India to buy American weaponry.

“US firms at this exhibition… have supplied modern land and sea-based fighter aircraft; ballistic missile defense systems; the most advanced, networked avionics equipment; and secure communications equipment for the United States and our partners.  They are poised to offer the same to India,” he stated.

Asked whether the flat Indian defence budget, with just $15 billion allocated for capital expenditure, was impeding US defence sales, Juster blamed “the economic slowdown.”

“One of my concerns about an economic slowdown is that it effects all elements of a country including its ability to modernize its defence capabilities as rapidly as possible,” said Juster.

Juster was blunt in criticizing New Delhi’s 49 per cent cap on foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence manufacture, as well as India’s offset policy.

“In terms of foreign investment, if you’re trying to attract investment into your country to develop your indigenous capabilities, I think having caps limits that degree of flexibility. My sense is that fewer caps will lead to greater investment, which will lead to greater domestic production and better long term indigenous capability over time,” said Juster.

Stating that “offsets are not efficient” and that Washington had no truck with them, Juster said: “If India believes offsets are essential… It has got to be done in a practical and effective way so that companies can actually utilize the offset requirements to enhance their production capabilities, so that there is flexibility in what can be counted as an offset… and that they get credit for their offset operations so that they can continue to engage in the production activities that are desired.” 

Juster urged setting up co-production ventures between US and Indian firms, to establish India as a “global hub for manufacturing defence equipment.” 

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest defence company, which hopes to win an on-going $20-25 billion tender for supplying the Indian Air Force (IAF) with 114 medium fighters, revealed that India could buy more C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, over and above the 12 already in the IAF fleet.

The IAF bought six C-130Js in 2010, and the delivery of those and an additional six aircraft was completed in December. Given the IAF’s satisfaction with the aircraft, and India’s vast borders and coastline, Lockheed Martin says more C-130Js would inevitably be procured.

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