India plays a vital role in achieving our shared vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific. Working alongside interagency partners, the Political-Military Affairs (PM) Bureau advances the defense trade relationship and broader security partnership between the United States and India.
In 2016, the United States designated India as a Major Defense Partner. Commensurate with this designation, in 2018, India was elevated to Strategic Trade Authorization tier 1 status, which allows India to receive license-free access to a wide range of military and dual-use technologies regulated by the Department of Commerce.
U.S.-India defense trade cooperation continues to expand with the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), and the Industrial Security Agreement (ISA) now in place. The PM Bureau supported the increase in total defense trade with India from near zero in 2008 to over $20 billion in 2020. The PM Bureau is committed to further streamlining U.S.-India defense sales we facilitate through both the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Direct Commercial Sales (DCS) processes. These sales support thousands of jobs in both countries and help ensure the health of both countries’ defense industrial bases.
FMS sales notified to Congress are listed here, and recent and significant prior sales include: MH-60R Seahawk helicopters ($2.8 billion), Apache helicopters ($796 million), and the Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasure ($189 million). India was the first non-treaty partner to be offered a Missile Technology Control Regime Category-1 Unmanned Aerial System – the Sea Guardian UAS manufactured by General Atomics. PM continues to support advocacy for the Lockheed Martin F-21 and Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet and F-15EX Eagle as part of India’s future fighter aircraft acquisitions. A potential selection of any of these platforms would enhance India’s military capabilities, increase U.S.-India military interoperability, and protect shared security interests in the Indo-Pacific region
Since 2015, the United States also authorized India over $3 billion in defense articles via the DCS process, which licenses the export of the defense equipment, services, and related manufacturing technologies controlled under the 21 categories of the U.S. Munitions List (USML). The top DCS categories to India during this period were military electronics (USML category XI); fire control, laser, imaging, and guidance equipment (category XII); and aircraft and related articles.
The PM Bureau is the U.S. government lead for building peacekeeping cooperation with India. India is consistently among the top five contributors of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping operations, with over 5,000 personnel deployed at any given time. From 2016 to 2019, India and the United States jointly taught the UN Peacekeeping Course for African Partners. These courses, conducted in New Delhi and organized for officers from 23 African troop and police contributing countries, were co-sponsored by the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative, and taught by U.S., Indian, and African course alumni. The United States and India are now looking to expand collaboration on peacekeeping cooperation with Indo-Pacific partners. This enduring element of cooperation speaks to the strength of the U.S.-India security partnership and our mutual commitment to uphold the ideals on which the United Nations was founded.
The PM Bureau also supports increasing maritime security cooperation with India and other Indian Ocean partners. In 2019, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India became eligible for funding under DoD’s Maritime Security Initiative, which conducts partner capacity building in the Indo-Pacific. Also, since the Bay of Bengal Initiative was established in 2018, we provided more than $145 million in Foreign Military Financing for maritime capacity building in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives to enhance the capacity of civilian and military actors with maritime equities to prevent, detect, and respond promptly to illicit activities within their own areas of responsibility and throughout the Bay of Bengal. PM continues to work closely with partners in the region to coordinate capacity building and security assistance efforts to eliminate redundancies and address critical gaps as we work to build the maritime safety and security capacity of our partners.
India participates in the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, and received at least $1 million of IMET funding annually since 2003. IMET provides professional military education and training to military students and is key to establishing lasting relationships with future leaders. IMET courses increase military professionalization, enhance interoperability with U.S. forces, offer instruction on the law of armed conflict and human rights, provide technical and operational training, and create a deeper understanding of the United States. Indian IMET graduates tend to go on to achieve high rank in the Indian military, creating a common understanding and opportunities to increase interoperability between the U.S. and Indian militaries.
In November 2019, the United States and India conducted Tiger Triumph, the first-ever tri-service (ground, naval, and air forces) exercise between the two countries. During the weeklong exercise, U.S. Marines and sailors partnered with forces from all three of India’s armed services to rehearse disaster response and humanitarian aid delivery. India also participates in the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise and trilateral Malabar exercise with the United States and Japan. These military exercises enhance U.S.-India relations and help create a more stable and secure Indo-Pacific region.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.