With an eye on China, US to co-develop drones with India
On Thursday, a senior Pentagon official announced that the United States and India will co-develop drones as Washington wants tighter ties with Delhi as a means of fending off China. The official stated that India would produce these drones and export them to other nations in the neighborhood.
In 2016, the United States designated India as a “major defence partner,” and since then, the two countries have signed agreements that facilitate transfers of top-grade arms and deepen military cooperation.
Delhi wants to diversify its weaponry, which is mainly Russian-made, and also wants to develop its own defence industry. “And we want to support India on both fronts and are doing so,” Eli Ratner, assistant secretary of defence for Indo-Pacific security affairs, told a group of reporters and defence experts.
“In practical terms, that means that we’re going to be working closely with India on co-producing and co-developing capabilities that will support India’s own defence modernization goals,” Ratner said.
India can then “export to our partners across the region, including in South and Southeast Asia at affordable price points.”
Ratner cited the possibility of developing drones launched from airplanes and anti-drone defence systems. He also said the Pentagon is considering in the near and medium term “opportunities to co-produce major capabilities,” but did not say which ones.
“We’re having good conversations with our counterparts in the Indian government at the highest levels about our respective priorities in that regard, and we hope to have more to announce on this front before too long,” Ratner said.
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