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Ash Carter may help move defence pacts

Ashton Carter

Ashton Carter   | Photo Credit: SAUL LOEB

‘Enthusiasm for the India-U.S. defence logistics agreements is not waning from the U.S. side despite the transition in the White House’.

Enthusiasm for the India-U.S. defence logistics agreements is not waning from the U.S. side despite the transition in the White House, Heidi Grant, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, told journalists on Tuesday.

India and the United States signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in August, a custom made version of the Logistics Sharing Agreement (LSA), which provides a framework for closer logistics and infrastructure cooperation, such as aircraft repair and fuelling. However, the agreement is yet to be operationalised.

The feeling in New Delhi has been that the enthusiasm for the deals has dampened with the imminent Trump presidency.

“The agreements are really important information sharing agreements for us to move forward with our relationship,” Ms. Grant, who promotes U.S. military training and personnel exchanges abroad and oversees $100 billion worth of U.S. military sales globally, said.

Foundational agreements

There are two other logistics and information sharing agreements, the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which, together with LSA form the three foundational agreements that define American defence ties with partner countries. These other two agreements are yet to be signed.

“It’s not only in the United States — as leadership change policies go up and down, we just need to keep moving forward, military to military when the time is right for that agreement — agreements to be signed and moved forward [sic],” Ms. Grant said.

Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter, is due in India in December, in what will be the final visit of his tenure. He will hope to make progress on the agreements during the visit, Ms. Grant said, in response to a question from The Hindu on the delays in LEMOA’s operationalisation.

“ I mean, I think that he’s going to visit alone will help — hopefully move things forward and have a conversation. I think it’s great that he’s going for the visit to have that dialogue hopefully to move things forward,” she said.

Combat aircraft sale

The slow progress on the foundational agreements has not derailed discussions on the U.S.’s sale of combat aircraft to India, which has been uniquely assigned the title of ‘major defence partner,’ a designation that enables the transfer of sensitive technology to India.

Earlier in 2016, American defence manufacturer Lockheed Martin had proposed to move the production of its F-16 N block aircraft to India. But according to Ms. Grant, India is deciding whether the single engine F-16s are most suited to its needs.

“So an F-16 is a single-engine aircraft, but my understanding is India’s also looking at a two-engine aircraft which is a Boeing aircraft and an F-15. So decisions haven’t been made right now,” Ms. Grant said.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 7:47:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/Ash-Carter-may-help-move-defence-pacts/article16733209.ece

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