India / USA and Indian drone C-130
The US is planning to sign an important ‘drone deal’ with India during President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to New Delhi. Ahead of Obama’s arrival in the Indian capital in the last week of January, the senior American officials have started taking necessary steps to secure agreements with the South Asian country in this regard.
US Under-secretary of Defence for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, who is set to make his fourth visit to New Delhi, told the local media in Washington on Thursday that the proposed agreements would allow America to start pilot projects for joint production of drones and equipment for transport planes.
Kendalls spokeswoman Maureen Schumann said he will meet with Defense Secretary Radha Krishna Mathur, Secretary for Defense Production G. Mohan Kumar and Scientific Advisor to the Minister of Defense Avinash Chander.
According to a senior official of the Defence Department, the US is ready to finalise two pilot projects, including one involving Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and another one involving systems for the C-130 military transport aircraft manufacture by Lockheed Martin Corporation.
The American government has a strict control over foreign sales of larger UAVs. However, it has approved sales of unarmed systems, like the Raven, which are used purely for surveillance to a range of countries, including Uzbekistan. According to sources close to the industry, the transport plane project involves building of roll-on, roll-off modules that allow C-130s to be used for surveillance and for VIP transports or hospitals.
India has received five C-130Js built by Lockheed, and six more planes are on order through 2017, parts of which will be built in India.
The United States is keen to develop its political and strategic ties with India, with which it shares concerns about Chinas increasingly assertive territorial claims in the Asia-Pacific region.