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PM Modi Visits US: Defense Cooperation Centered in Billion-Dollar Deal

With multi-billion dollar deals underway, the focus on defense cooperation will be a key outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s upcoming visit to the United States. The closer geopolitical ties between India and the US will be highlighted during Prime Minister Modi’s first official visit to the US starting June 21.

Indian officials have indicated they are preparing a comprehensive outcome document that will pave the way for future relations between the two influential democracies. One of the important outcomes of the visit is expected to be a roadmap for defense industry cooperation.

At a press conference in New Delhi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Binay Mohan Kwatra stressed that co-production and co-development of defense is essential for talks between Prime Minister Modi and US President Joe Biden. Bilateral defense cooperation will be prominently featured, reflecting the deepening relationship between India and the United States, especially in light of tensions with China.

Several defense agreements are set to be unveiled during Modi’s long-awaited visit. India’s Ministry of Defense recently approved the procurement of 31 MQ-9B Predator armed drones from the United States under an intergovernmental framework. The deal, worth nearly $3 billion, is expected to be finalized after talks with Prime Minister Modi and President Biden in Washington.

The acquisition of these weaponized drones, known as “Hunter Killers” from General Atomics, is aimed at enhancing the Indian military’s surveillance capabilities, particularly along the India-China border. The Indian Navy will receive 14 drones, while the Indian Air Force and Army will each receive eight. Additionally, an agreement could be finalized to build GE-414 fighter engines in India during Modi’s visit. These engines will power India’s homegrown Tejas Mark 2 fighter jet.

The importance of our defense relationship with the United States lies in our efforts to strengthen our strategic and defense engagement while countering China’s claims in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). The United States sees India as an important regional partner and a counterweight to China. Together with Australia and Japan, the two countries have formed the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad), which advocates the realization of a free and fair Indo-Pacific region, and are implicitly sending a message to China. Defense cooperation between India and the United States has intensified in recent years, particularly against the backdrop of border tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh. PM Modi Visits US: Defense Cooperation Centered in Billion-Dollar Deal

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