The Strategist

American Weapons Aim to India

06/05/2015 - 16:59

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter finished his visit to India, the main result of which was the signing of a ten-year framework agreement on military-technical cooperation (MTC). The agreements opens up new opportunities for the United States in the struggle for leadership in the Indian arms market, which is owned by Russia.

MPD01605 via flickr
MPD01605 via flickr
The three-day visit of US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter in Delhi was the final part of his tour around the region, which also included visits to Singapore and Vietnam. The first part of the tour was the mobilization of regional allies to contain China, and the final stage of Ashton Carter’s trip was dedicated to the struggle for India - a traditional partner of Moscow.

The first part on the program was a visit to the city and the port of Vishakhapatnam - one of the symbols of Russian-Indian cooperation, where in Soviet times, with the assistance of Moscow, the largest metallurgical combine, and today is the main naval base of India was built.

Following the visit, Ashton Carter and his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar signed a ten-year framework agreement on military cooperation (The 2015 US-India Defense Framework), which prolongs a framework agreement run up in 2005. "Over the past ten years the military-technical cooperation between the two countries have been radically changed, and that must have been reflected in the new document. According to experts, the new agreement focuses on the joint development of weapons technology, as well as brand-new models. In particular, the US and India are going to work on the production of aircraft engines, a new generation of drones, construction of aircraft carriers, the creation of means of protection against chemical and biological weapons.

But there is another fact - ten years ago, the United States had literally stormed into the Indian arms market, starting from scratch, and now occupy place second after Russia among Delhi’s MTC partners. Unlike Russia, that has a kind of imbalance between political relations and military-technical ties with India, the United States managed to weave his defense cooperation with New Delhi in the overall fabric of bilateral relations. The struggle for Indian orders with the American factor for Russian arms will be tough.

However, according to experts, there are serious pitfalls along with great potential in the Indo-US military cooperation. The US traditionally pay much attention to the status of military-technical ties in the country. The table of ranks has a certain gradation: NATO partners, preferred partners outside NATO and others. If we talk about Asia, India does not have the status of privileged partner, like the status of a partner of NATO. In addition, the slowness in decision-making from the Indian side, and great clarity of the US on the issue of the transfer of military technologies, which are reluctantly divided in Washington, can serve as constraints. So, given these factors, the promotion of the United States in the Indian arms market will not be too fast definitely, thus, Russia will retain a certain room for maneuver.

According to the authoritative Stockholm Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India bought arms for $ 4.243 billion in 2014, of which $ 2.146 billion went to Russia and $ 1.138 billion - to the United States.

Having raised the stakes in the struggle for India - a privileged strategic partner of Moscow in the Asia-Pacific region, Ashton Carter switched to the containment of Russia in the post-Soviet space. Today in Stuttgart, US Secretary of Defense will hold an emergency meeting with American and German diplomats and militaries in connection with the situation’s aggravation in the conflict zone in the Donbass. The meeting will consider issues of further sanctions pressure on Russia and military assistance to states of the region, concerned about the situation around the Crimea and Ukraine.


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