Defence minister Rajnath Singh and Foreign minister S Jaishankar are set to leave for Washington next month for the second ‘two-plus-two’ dialogue with their US counterparts. On their agenda will be to speed up defence technology cooperation between India and the US.
The Indo-US defence cooperation is hobbled by the fact that the two countries have virtually no joint development projects to develop defence hardware.
The ‘Defence Technology Trade Initiative’ (DTTI) launched in 2015, the brainchild of then US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, aimed to resolve this conundrum. The choice of DTTI projects – chemical and biological gear for soldiers and UAVs might seem underwhelming when you look at the big ticket items.
A Navy working group project for Electromagnetic Launch Systems for launching combat jets from aircraft carriers could be hobbled by the fact that a new Indian aircraft carrier is nowhere on the horizon.
A critical project for the co-development of a fighter jet engine was recently suspended after it fell afoul of US export controls. There are several reasons why the DTTI has remained a non-starter.
The ninth meeting of the DTTI working groups concluded in New Delhi on October 24 signed a statement of intent to strengthen dialogue and cooperation on specific DTTI projects including lightweight small arms technologies and air-launched Unmanned Aerial Systems.
The working group noted that “significant progress has been made on developing a DTTI Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the identification and development of cooperative projects under DTTI.”
The SOP will serve as the framework for DTTI and allow both sides to reach and document a mutual understanding on how to define and achieve success. The upcoming 2+2 is the near-term opportunity to finalise the SOP. Two plus two could make 22 after all.