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Salient aspects of the framework are:
To implement the above initiatives, the two countries will]:
Given India’s strategic thought process and its core national values, it is unlikely that it will opt to undertake any joint operation with US Navy, unless mandated by the UN. This is keeping with India’s belief system and core values of non-violence and non-interference in another nations sovereign affair
This is one area where the Indian Navy has been very active and conduct four exercises with the US Navy. The exercises are Malabar, Habu Nag, Spitting Cobra and Salvex. Habu Nag is an amphibious table-top exercise, Spitting Cobra is an explosive ordnance demolition exercise and Salvex is a salvage exercise. Three exercises of the Malabar series were conducted prior to 1998, when the US suspended the exercises due to India carrying out nuclear tests. They were resumed after 9/11 attacks in 2001.
The ninth edition of the exercise in 2007 was held outside the Indian Ocean, off the Japanese Island of Okinawa. Apart from other features which were customarily part of Malabar, it also included surface and anti-submarine warfare. China was unhappy at the conduct of such a large-scale exercise. On January 26, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Obama agreed to upgrade exercise Malabar to make it multi-lateral.
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Indian ships escorted US vessels through the Strait of Malacca. But the most intense engagement took place during the December 2004 tsunami that caused widespread destruction and a death toll of approximately 2,30,000 people across 14 countries. Among the countries hardest hit were Indonesia, Thailand and Sri Lanka. Both US and India responded to this with the US deploying a carrier strike group, an Expeditionary Strike Group along with a hospital ship. The Indian Navy deployed 32 ships, seven aircraft and 20 helicopters through the Strait of Malacca. After the success of this HADR, US had a rethink on India’s capability and role in the Indian Ocean. Non-combatant Evacuation Operations (NEOs)-is another area where India can participate as the Indian Navy has already displayed its capability when India carried out Operation Sukoon – evacuation of Indian citizens from Lebanon during July 2006 and Operation Raahat – evacuation from Yemen in 2015.
Other key areas which will deepen the Indo-US Maritime Cooperation are assistance in modernisation, transfer of dual use and other technologies, cyber security, research and development, and developing India’s military industrial complex.
Many procurements have been made from US in the last decade or so. The ball was set rolling with the acquisition of Landing Platform Dock INS Jalashwa (formerly the USS Trenton) along with six Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King helicopters from the US in 2005. INS Jalashwa is the only Indian naval ship to be acquired from the US. There is an offer for another from US but at present it is on hold. Subsequently US offered P3 Orion on lease but India decided to acquire the latest P-8I which is a long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft capable of broad area, maritime and littoral operations. The P-8I is a variant of the P-8A Poseidon that Boeing has developed for the US Navy. India has also purchased AGM-84L Harpoon Block II Missiles and Mk 54 All-Up-Round Lightweight Torpedoes for the P-8I. The Indian Navy has finally selected the US Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk for its shipboard multirole helicopter (MRH) requirement. Other key requirements are for naval guns; airborne early warning, electronic warfare, battle management and command and control systems in which Advanced Hawk eye E-2D fits in very well; rotary UAVs; cyber security and anti-submarine and ant surface warfare weapons.
The Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DITI) agreed upon during the recent visit of President Obama in January 2015 will bolster joint development of weapons and India’s military industrial complex and will give a much-needed impetus to the ‘Make in India’ programme. US can assist in transferring core technologies including dual use technologies to hone and streamline DRDO, OFs and DPSUs.
There has been a clear growing maritime intent in India–US cooperation in the past few years and bilateral interests have come to converge, due to both the individual countries’ interests and regional common goals. As an economically and militarily developing country, India seeks to expand its strategic influence the Indian Ocean Region (IOR). It also comes across as the most stable and powerful country in the region that could support the long-term interests of the US in the region. The US sees India as a significant balancer of China in the region, and the Indian Ocean as a maritime opponent to the South China Sea. As the US–China rivalry continues in the Asia-Pacific, the Indian Ocean remains the stable pivot from where the Asian power balance will be string-held.
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