Negotiations speeded up on armed predator drones for India
The US is said to be speeding up an Indian request for buying armed predator drone aircraft for military surveillance and destroying terrorist camps and launch pads. This is said to be part and parcel of several defence and nuclear projects the two sides are pursuing in the final months of the Barack Obama administration.
India’s request for 22 Predator Guardian drones made in June is said to be in an advanced stage of negotiations. The two sides hope to process the deal to a point where only administrative tasks remain by the time President Obama leaves office. What’s helping the matter most is the excellent chemistry between President Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Indian Armed Forces are believed to be lobbying for the armed version of the Predator to help target suspected militant camps in Pakistan but U.S. export control laws prohibit such a transfer unless there is a Presidential or Congressional waiver. To sort out this matter as well as the other pending issues, U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, who visited India in April, is expected to make a final trip to New Delhi towards the end of the year.
“The administration is eager to get as much done as is humanly possible. They believe the conditions and the personnel in both capitals are uniquely favorable at the moment and are eager to consolidate and institutionalize the progress,” Jeff Smith, director of Asia Security Programs at the American Foreign Policy Council, told Reuters.
The armed version of the Predator missile is nothing compared to the technology that the US is offering India in developing its biggest aircraft carrier. The flight launch technology that is being inducted into US’s own carriers to fly heavier fighter planes off the deck would help the Indian navy jump off a generation of technology. In June, the United States reached agreement on exchanging confidential information on the development of carriers with India – its only non-treaty ally with such an arrangement.
“They have already started helping us on our first indigenous carrier, in terms of certification, quality testing,” Reuters said quoting an Indian government official. It added, “The challenge will be to sustain the momentum over the next decade.” In August the Modi government signed a logistics agreement giving each country access to the other’s military bases, after 10 years of negotiations. Also on the table are two other defence agreements, one on securing communications and the other on sharing spatial data that Washington has been pushing for.
Modi has shown he won’t hesitate to “reach down and choke someone,” to get things done, Smith at the American Foreign Policy Council said, quoting a Pentagon official, the report said.
The increasing cooperation between India and the US in defence arena has sent shock waves down the spine of China and its client state Pakistan. While the Chinese news and social media are full of chatter and expert comments, Pakistani officials have turned so nervous that they have started cursing the US like Russia and China. Two of its notable envoys on a recent visit to the US went to the extent of calling the US a declining power and threatened to step up their military collaborations with Russia and China.