In an effort to further enhance their defence cooperation, India and the US have on Tuesday inked a Statement of Intent (SOI), under which they have declared their intent “to strengthen dialogue on defence technology cooperation by pursuing detailed planning and making measurable progress” on many Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) projects. The agreement was signed at the end of the 10th DTTI Group Meeting, which was held virtually on Sept 15 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an official statement issued by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Wednesday.
The DTTI Group Meetings are held twice a year, alternating between India and the US. The focus is on bilateral defence trade relations and co-development and co-production of futuristic weapon platforms, as these efforts are expected to take the bilateral defence relations to the next level of Strategic Cooperation.
The meeting reviewed the progress made so far on the collaborative opportunities on the near term projects to be completed on a priority basis. Under the DTTI, there are four Joint Working Groups which are focused on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies.
Last year a DTTI Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the identification and development of cooperative projects was concluded.
Earlier this month, according to the MoD statement, for developing the next generation technologies under the DTTI Group, the 1st DTTI Industry Collaboration Forum (DICF), took place virtually on September 10, 2020. This forum is expected to offer an opportunity for Indian and US industry to be directly involved in DTTI; and will facilitate dialogue between government and industry on issues that impact industrial collaboration.
What does it mean?
It means that now private sector companies from both sides will be part of any projects identified. Also, innovators will be encouraged. And all the projects identified by the service- specific Joint Working Groups will be executed under DTTI.
In the draft Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) 2020, a process of dovetailing the products developed through DTTI has also been formalized. There are two paragraphs — there is Para 129 which is about Co-development and Para 130 which is about Co-production. The DAP which is still in the draft stage also mentions that the projects under the DTTI umbrella will be concluded under an IGA/specific Project Agreement after getting clearance from AoN. This means that the eight-nine projects that have been shortlisted will get included in DTTI only in 2021.
Projects have been identified?
Identified as the near, medium and long term projects, they include Air-launched Small Unmanned Systems, Light Weight Small Arms Technology and Intelligence-Surveillance-Targetting & Reconnaissance (ISTAR).
Maritime Domain Awareness Solution and Virtual Augmented Mixed Reality for Aircraft Maintenance or VAMRAM have been identified as medium-term projects.
There are two long term projects — Terrain Shaping Obstacle and Counter-UAS, Rocket, Artillery & Mortar (CURAM) system, for the Indian Army.
Agreements between the two countries
Both countries have GSOMIA, LEMOA and COMCASA have already been signed.
And Financial Express Online has reported that one pending BECA is expected to be inked during the forthcoming 2+2 ministerial dialogue scheduled for October.
These agreements have helped in taking the relationship between the two countries to the next level.