India,US to sign key defence logistics deal

New Delhi: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to visit the US later this year, and both the countries are likely to sign the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), which was finalised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June.

The LEMOA is expected to be signed in the presence of Parrikar and US Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter. The agreement was agreed in-principle in April this year. The dates for Parriker’s visit are yet to be finalised.

Once signed, India and the US will be able to share their military facilities whenever required.

According to a joint statement, this will lead to enhanced military-to-military cooperation especially in joint exercises, training and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The US has already stated that India is its “major defence partner” and will continue to work towards facilitating technology sharing with it to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.

“While the agreement has already been finalised, the signing remains to be done. Only then can the agreement be put to use,” an official told BusinessLine requesting anonymity.

LEMOA is one of three foundational agreements that US signs with countries that it recognises as ‘priority defence partner’. The US had been pushing India to sign this pact along with the Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) for deeper defence and strategic ties.

Apparently, the visit was finalised during the visit of US Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Frank Kendall to India last month.

Sources also said that both sides have made “some progress” in BECA, which will entail critical information exchange between both the militaries. The issue was also discussed during the semi-annual Defense Technology and Trade Initiative held during Kendall’s visit. The next DTTI will be held in Washington in January 2017.

The US is now India’s largest defence partner with sales reaching over $13 billion. Last month, the US and India inked a defence deal worth $1.1 billion under which India will be procuring four additional Poseidon-8I long-range surveillance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft over and above the eight that Indian Navy already possesses.

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