Representative image. Photo: Reuters
The first-ever US-India Defence Ties Conference began in Hyderabad on Wednesday with the visiting deputy assistant secretary from the US Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Joel Starr hoping for an early conclusion of ongoing negotiations with the Indian government involving the sale of F-18 and F-21 fighter planes.
"Several milestones have been achieved in India-US defence ties in a short period time as we see the defence trade reaching $ 16 billion level in a matter of ten years. The US has designated India as a major defence partner in 2016 while three US ships had recently visited Vizag for the bilateral exercises, to name a few. I look forward to seeing the defence trade further growing as we hope the contract for sale of F 18 and F 21s would conclude soon" Starr said on the opening day of the the two-day event hosted by the US Consulate.
The US official said Hyderabad is a microcosm of best practices in the US-India defence relationship as several American companies operating in the city also had collaborations with Indian companies both in civilian and defence fields. The US and Indian companies are already collaborating in the co-production of C-130 transport aircraft, F-16 fighter planes, and Apache helicopters at joint facilities in the city.
The conference is being held in partnership with the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU) and the Confederation of Indian Industry(CII). Panel discussions on bilateral security architecture, US competitiveness in the Indian defence sector, Make in India offsets, long-term strategies towards achieving partnerships in the defence supply chain, emerging technology solutions for co-production among others were lined up at the conference.