India signs landmark, defence fact with us

Prelims level : Mains level : Paper – II Bi-lateral Agreement Involving India
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Why in news?

  • India and  the  United  States  sealed  the  landmark  Communications  Compatibility  and Security Agreement (COMCASA) that will lead to a new generation of bilateral military partnership.  It comes into force immediately and is valid for 10 years.

What is COMCASA?

  • COMCASA is one of the three foundation agreements that signed by a country with the United States to share high-end encrypted communication and satellite data.
  • India has  already signed two of them  – General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002 and the Logistics  Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016.
  • Discussions have not even begun on the agreement, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA).
  • This agreement permits Indian military to function on high-end secured and encrypted communication equipment that are installed on American platforms obtained by Indian Armed Forces.
  • These platforms include C-130 J, C-17, P-8I aircraft, and Apache and Chinook helicopters. This facilitates greater interoperability  between  forces and military hardware of the two countries, and also possibly with other countries that operate on US-origin platforms. Due to non-signing of COMCASA, these platforms were using commercially available communication systems

How it helps India?

  • The agreement is meant to provide a legal framework to allow transfer of encrypted communication security equipment from the US to  India, which is said to be safer and more secure than the system that India uses right now.
  • Currently, Indian military reportedly uses a locally-sourced platform to communicate between various weapons systems, which also includes the platforms that India has acquired from the US.
  • The US government will be able to give the go-ahead to install the best communication equipment on relevant platforms being sold to India.
  • As a complement to COMCASA, a hotline will also be established not only between the countries’ defence and foreign ministers but also  between the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and the Indian Navy in the interest of security in the Indian Ocean.
  • Though Russia remains the biggest defence partner of India, the US has become India’s second-largest arms supplier; the two countries have closed $15 billion worth of deals in the last The meeting also saw the two sides agreeing to step up their counter terrorism cooperation.

Role for Private Sector:

  • Sitharaman and Secretary of Defence James N. Mattis also announced their readiness to begin  negotiations  on  an  Industrial  Security  Annex  (ISA)  that  would  allow  Indian private sector to collaborate with the U.S. defence industry.
  • The GSOMIA  allows  sharing  of  classified  information  from  the  S.  government  and American companies with the Indian government and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) but not with Indian private companies.
  • To further  defence  innovation,  a  Memorandum  of  Intent  was  signed  between  the  S. Defense  Innovation  Unit  (DIU)  and  the  Indian  Defence  Innovation  Organization  – Innovation for Defence Excellence (DIO-iDEX), which will look into joint projects for co-production  and  co-development  projects  through  the  Defense  Technology  and  Trade Initiative  (DTTI).  Ahead  of  the  10th  anniversary  of  the  26/11  terror  strikes  in  Mumbai, India and the U.S. resolved to combat international terrorism and asked Pakistan to bring those responsible for recent acts of terrorism against India to justice.
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