india-us-defence-deals

Context: India and the US are preparing for the third 2+2 ministerial meeting.

More on news:

  • One of the items on the agenda will be the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).
  • In the last two meetings, agreements known as LEMOA and COMCASA were signed.
  • These agreements are called foundational defence agreements with the USA.

BECA

  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement largely pertains to geospatial intelligence, and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence. 
  • Geospatial information: Anyone who sails a ship, flies an aircraft, fights wars, locates targets, responds to natural disasters, or even navigates with a cellphone relies on geospatial intelligence.
  • Signing BECA will allow India to use the US’s advanced geospatial intelligence and enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones. 
  • This could be key for Air Force-to-Air Force cooperation. 

LEMOA: 

  • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed between India and the US in August 2016. 
  • It allows the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases: access supplies and services from the other country’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed. 
  • This is extremely useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation, since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.

COMCASA

  • The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement was signed in September 2018.
  • It allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, aircraft and ships can communicate through secure networks in peace and war.
  • It is like WhatsApp for the two militaries, which is safe and provides real-time communication.
  • COMCASA paved the way for transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate “interoperability” between their forces and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.

Significance of three pacts

  • Growing trust: While LEMOA means one partner trusts the other enough to expose its valuable assets, COMCASA means one is confident that it can rely on encrypted systems to connect the two militaries.
    • BECA means it can share highly classified information in real time without fear of being compromised. 
  • India-China border standoff: The cooperation includes sharing of high-end satellite images, telephone intercepts, and data sharing of Chinese troops and weapons deployment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). 
    • The armed forces have used C-17 Globemaster III , Boeing’s Chinook CH-47 as heavy-lift helicopters, Boeing’s Apache as tank-killers, P-8I Poseidon for overland reconnaissance, and Lockheed Martin’s C-130J for airlifting troops.

Challenges to India-US defence relations

  • Russia factor: The US wants India to move away from Russian equipment and platforms, as it feels this may expose its technology and information to Moscow. 
    • India is going ahead with the purchase of the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia, and this has been a sticking point between India-US. 
  • US-Pakistan ties: India is concerned about Pakistan’s deep-rooted ties with Pentagon, and Washington’s dependence on it for access to Afghanistan as well as its exit strategy.

New Delhi’s strategic embrace of Washington is the obvious outcome in wake of Chinese threat.

‘2+2’ Dialogue 

  • It is a format of dialogue where the defense and foreign ministers meet with their counterparts from another country.
  • India holds such talks with Japan and the US.
  • The US holds such dialogues with Australia and Japan also.
Image Source: IE