In the joint statement issued on June 7 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama at the conclusion of their meeting, a mention was made of India being recognized as a ‘Major Defence Partner’. (See point 17 of the statement.)
India will get “license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies,” reads the statement.
Now, a senior US official elaborated on what the ‘MDP’ tag actually means. In short, India will be able to access almost 99 per cent of latest American defence technologies.
US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter (L) and Indian Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar inspect a jet engine in the hanger deck of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. Reuters
“India (now) enjoys access to (defence) technologies that is on a par with our treaty allies. That is a very unique status. India is the only other country that enjoys that status outside our formal treaty allies,” the official told PTI.
The official pointed out that it will help solidify the India-specific policies that have been taken by the US ever since Obama came to power.
US and Indian soldiers during Yudh Abhyas 2010 in Alaska. U.S. Army photo by Spc. Ashley M. Armstrong
Technically, India is as good as an ally in the eyes of the US even though it officially is not. US will now be able to easily export defence-related equipment to India.
A US Drone. America currently has the world’s most lethal drones. Reuters
According to Ashley Tellis of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the category of ‘Major Defence Partner’ was created specifically for India.
He says that the focus of bilateral defence ties will expand to maritime security and India’s admission to non-proliferation regimes.
Currently, India is not a member of any such regime. It is non-NPT identity that China raised in its objection to India’s entry into the NSG.
US is also technologically helping India with the latter’s aircraft carrier programme.
On June 25, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar gave the green signal to a USD 750 million deal for 145 BAE M777 Howitzers, making US the first country in 30 years to sell field guns to Indian Army.
On June 19, Parrikar had laid the foundation stone of a TATA-Boeing JV facility in Hyderabad where they’ll make fuselages for the Apache helicopters.
Defence trade between India and the US has increased from being almost non-existent to more than $14 billion in the last 10 years.