US lists military deals, special ties with India

August 24, 2004


NEW DELHI, Aug 23: The United States said on Monday that new military ties with India was a key plank of its emerging policy in South Asia and listed an impressive catalogue of arms deals with New Delhi that would inevitably , even if apparently unintentionally, trigger a fresh round of concerns in Islamabad.

Speaking at the Army War College in Indore, US Charge d'Affaires Robert Blake said recent military cooperation with India included joint training in jungle and mountain warfare, and an offer to sell to New Delhi chemical and biological protection equipment.

Their common quarry was terrorism. "Those who attack our societies, be it in New York, in Washington, in Mumbai, in New Delhi, or in Jammu & Kashmir, must be stopped. We condemn all terrorist violence, and let there be no doubt, we are with you 100 per cent on this issue," Mr Blake declared.

To help promote regional stability in South Asia, the US and India meet regularly to discuss "mutual concerns" in Afghanistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan.

"The US also supports continued efforts by India and Pakistan to better their relations," Mr Blake added. A copy of his remarks was made available by the US embassy.

"The relationship between our two countries transcends domestic politics, just as it did during the Clinton-Bush transition in 2001 and the BJP-Congress transition earlier this year," Mr Blake said, signalling a continuity of stable ties with New Delhi regardless of the party in power.

"Without doubt, military cooperation remains one of the most vibrant, visible, and proactive legs powering the transformation of US-India relations. This cooperation succeeds because of the Indian and US military establishments' mutual desire to move our relationship forward," the envoy said.

On the Indian side, there has been a tremendous effort to look to expand areas of mutual benefit, to look for partnerships, not antagonisms, and to look for regional collaboration, he observed. Mr Blake's list of military hardware - both sold and in the pipeline - was impressive.

In July 2003, two AN-TPQ/37 Firefinder counter-battery radars arrived and have been deployed in India. Two more radars, part of a 12 unit $190 million sales agreement under Washington's foreign military sales policy, will soon be deployed, having just completed their final quality testing.

The second major deal under negotiation is for the P-3 Orion naval reconnaissance plane. "US officials describe it as a "3C-plus" meaning the version that would be sold to India would be equipped with the latest avionics, including sensors and computerized command and control and weapons systems," Mr Blake said.

He added that India also plans to buy into the deep submersible rescue vessel (DSRV) system. Meanwhile, GE-404 engines for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) have already made their way here.

India will also buy $29 million worth of unique and special equipment to enhance the counter-terrorism capabilities of its special forces. They may also purchase chemical and biological protection equipment, he said.

He described as an area of great promise - and one that is of great strategic and commercial importance - the US-India Next Steps in Strategic Partnership initiative, or NSSP launched in January of this year.

This initiative will include expanded engagement on nuclear regulatory and safety issues and missile defence, ways to enhance cooperation in peaceful uses of space technology, and steps to create the appropriate environment for successful high technology commerce.