June 14, 2019 1:50:18 am
INDIA AND the US are working towards signing two more defence pacts, the Industrial Security Annexure (ISA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) to further institutionalise defence cooperation between the two countries.
Pentagon had already submitted a draft ISA to the Defence Ministry and sources said that a positive response is expected from India. The two sides could announce the signing of the ISA at the next 2+2 meeting between the two countries.
The next 2+2 meeting between the defence and foreign ministers and their counterparts is scheduled to be held in the US, as the last 2+2 meeting was held in New Delhi in September 2018. No firm dates have been set for the meeting but it could be scheduled around September, sources said.
An ISA, which is an Annexure to the General Security Of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) between the two countries, will enable the US government and US defence companies to share classified information with Indian private defence manufacturers. India and the US had the GSOMIA 17 years ago, which allowed sharing of classified information from the US government and American defence manufacturers with Indian government and government-owned defence firms but not with Indian private companies.
Signing the ISA is seen as a prerequisite for meaningful private sector participation in defence production in India, if it has to get modern technological inputs from US in a secure manner. With the Defence Ministry stressing Strategic Partnership model in defence manufacturing as part of Make in India, an ISA gains even greater importance.
The US has also shared a draft of BECA, which will allow exchange of geospatial information between India and the US for both military and civilian use. Getting accurate locations will allow Indian weapons systems and military platforms to accurately hit their targets. India had responded with its observations leading to a fresh draft from the US, and further discussions on it are expected before a draft is finalised.
BECA is the last of the three foundational agreement and the only one remaining to be signed. The two countries had signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in August 2016, wherein both the militaries can provide logistics support to the other side from their bases. Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), amended to meet Indian requirements, was signed last September at the 2+2 dialogue.
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