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U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave to the media before a meeting in New Delhi, India, Jan. 25, 2015 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

After Years of Talk, U.S.-India Defense Ties Gain Traction

Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama’s January visit to India saw some long-awaited movement on the two countries’ Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI), touted by both sides as a means to transform the current buyer-seller defense relationship into one based on coproduction and co-development. In pursuit of this stated goal, India and the U.S. have agreed upon some pathfinder projects for production of U.S.-origin systems in India, in addition to exploring several high-end joint technology development proposals. The moves confirm that the DTTI will be a key element of the two sides’ renewed bilateral defense pact as it moves into its second decade.

The four projects identified to kick-start DTTI are the RQ-11 Raven hand-launched drone; a reconnaissance module for the Indian air force’s C-130Js; mobile-power generators for field use; and a next-generation protective suit for nuclear, biological and chemical attacks. These items mark modest progress on DTTI, which is nevertheless seen as a cornerstone of the “2015 Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship” announced during Obama’s visit. The framework, which will “guide and expand the bilateral defense and strategic partnership over the next ten years,” also includes a research, development, testing and evaluation agreement to facilitate cooperation in defense research and development. ...

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