Having decided to increase the FDI cap in defence sector to 49 per cent, India on Friday said it wants to work closely with the US in developing its indigenous military hardware manufacturing industry and go for joint production of equipment.
At a delegation-level meeting between Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and his American counterpart Chuck Hagel, the two countries agreed to enhance their cooperation in joint production and development of defence equipment.
“The development of our own indigenous capabilities is a major objective that guides our present policies. In this direction, we have taken steps to raise the FDI cap in the defence sector. We look forward to work closely with the US in this regard,” Jaitley told the US in the meeting.
India has raised the FDI cap in defence sector recently from 26 per cent to 49 per cent with an aim of boosting indigenous defence production. India imports almost 70 per cent of its defence needs from foreign sources.
The US has been pushing defence deals with India worth over Rs 20,000 crore, including the sale of Apache attack choppers, Chinook heavylift helicopters and the Javelin anti-tank guided missiles.
It has already sold equipment worth Rs 60,000 crore in the last ten years to India but none of these weapon sales programme is about joint production or co-development and does not include transfer of technology.
Jaitley accepted an invitation from Hagel to visit the Pentagon– the headquarters of the United States Department of Defence, in October during his visit to Washington to attend the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank.
In the meeting, the two sides also decided to take steps for extension of the ten-year defence framework agreement with the United States before it expires in July 2015.
In the meeting, the two countries agreed to take forward the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) programme under which they will co-produce and co-develop military equipment and appointed nodal officers from both sides for the purpose.
“The contact person from the Indian side will be the Secretary, Department of Defence Production, and the US will be represented by Frank Kendall, the Under Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Licensing at the Pentagon,” a Defence Ministry release said.
India and the US also took note of the progress made by them in their defence ties and “both the sides reaffirmed their desire to further enhance bilateral defence cooperation, especially in technology and discussed ways for strengthening this partnership.”
The two countries also discussed the regional security situation.
Hagel is on a three-day visit to India and apart from Jaitley, held a meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.