India US defense cooperation has leapfrogged from a conventional arms purchase agreement to a much broader strategic relationship. With India at the helm of affair and the security challenges in the neighborhood propelling India for augmenteddefensepreparedness the collaboration is really at its highest level ever.
With the visit of US president Obama the momentum gained further and growing bonhomie between the two nations is truly reflected in the recent defense deals. Not only has the US shown its willingness to supply arms to India, it has given its approval for a long term strategic partnership with India. Fortunately there are broader pillars for a stable and sustainable long term partnership. The bilateral relation derives its strength from a shared mutual belief in freedom, democracy and on global issues like terrorism. In recent years two countries have realized an overlapped zone of interest and this has led to cooperation in the field of trade & commerce, technology and military. With the process of sustained dialogue the differences seems to have taken a back seat. The concern in India about US dominating the relationship is the story of past and the prevailing situation bring a new India-US collaboration in the limelight.
The transformation in the defensecooperation has been one of the spinoffs of India's nuclear test in Pokhran in 1998. Though India faced strict sanctions but the script for a new India was getting ready and in a decade from then, the global powers including US have now realized the potential of a resurgent India.
The first breakthrough was achieved in July 2007, when the two countries reached a historic milestone in their strategic partnership by completing negotiations on the bilateral agreement for peaceful nuclear cooperation, also known as the "123 agreement." The agreement, signed on October 10, 2008, governs civil nuclear trade between the two countries and opens the door for American and Indian firms to participate in each other's civil nuclear energy sector.
A look at the table suggests that since 2008, India has signed military deal worth $8.2 billion with US. The blueprint for many more such deals are being prepared and so a further boost to the enhanced military ties is on its way.
With all these deals on the table, the US is all set to replace Russia as India's largest arms supplier with a $3 billion deal on 10 C-17 Globemaster 111 cargo aircraft. The growing military ties between India and US are quite visible from the fact that the two countries have had 50 joint military exercises over the past eight years.
While the deal provides India an access to high technology military equipments, it is an equally good opportunity for US to win business for its defense companies. With the increased focus on creating jobs in US, the sense for peer based relationship with India is rising. With the economic recession challenging the dominance of western world, the emerging countries like India have not only shown their prowess on economic front but have also become strong on political front as well. As the drive to upgrade Indian defense forces is on, Washington is eyeing the lucrative $10-billion project for 126 fighter bombers that theIndian Air Force plans to buy and for which two American companies - Boeing and Lockheed Martin - are among six contenders.
Clearly the bilateral relationship is on the move. Much to the surprise of many US conventional allies, India is getting access to some of the technology which has been strictly restricted only for the core allies of the US. The rapid transformationin the India-US relationship is yet another story of paradigm shift in the image of India and this was quite evident from the word of visiting US president Obama that India is not rising rather it has already risen.
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