The United States Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin , will visit India in early June to advance discussions on bilateral defense cooperation. This visit comes as India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi prepares for his state visit to the US, where defense cooperation is expected to be a significant focus.
Ely Ratner, the assistant secretary for Indo-Pacific security affairs in the Department of Defense, highlighted the increasing strategic alignment between India and the US, emphasizing that the defense relationship is a top priority for the American leadership.
Ratner expressed categorical support for the co-production and co-development of defense systems to enhance India's indigenous capabilities.
He hinted at major announcements during PM Modi's visit to the US on June 22.
Lloyd Austin's upcoming visit to India will be his second trip to the country and his seventh visit to the Indo-Pacific since assuming office in January 2021.
Before arriving in New Delhi on June 4, he will also travel to Tokyo and Singapore, where he will address the Shangrila dialogue.
Ratner, speaking at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, emphasized the historic nature of the deepening US-India defense partnership, referring to initiatives such as the critical and emerging technologies (ICET) launch earlier in January.
Ratner acknowledged previous challenges in bilateral defense industrial cooperation but highlighted the current alignment on co-development and co-production as India aims to strengthen its military capabilities and diversify away from Russian systems.
He emphasized the importance of not conducting "business as usual" but prioritizing the relationship with India. Ratner stated that the leaders of the US, from the President to the Secretary of Defense, view the partnership with India as a major priority. The success of co-production and co-development efforts, under the ICET framework, is a key objective for both countries.
Ratner mentioned the ongoing discussions regarding General Electric's application to jointly produce jet engines for indigenous Indian aircraft, highlighting that progress is being made. He stated that major announcements will be made during PM Modi's visit to the US.
Ratner, who has played a significant role in supporting defense cooperation with various countries, expressed his enthusiasm for the deepening engagement and increased operational capabilities resulting from the partnership between the US and India.
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