India plays a vital role in the U.S. 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, India last year was granted Strategic Trade Authorization tier 1 status, which allows India to receive license-free access to a wide range of military and dual-use technologies that are regulated by the Department of Commerce.
With a Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and other enabling agreements now in place, U.S.-India defense trade cooperation continues to expand. The PM Bureau has supported the increase in total defense trade with India from near zero in 2008 to $15 billion this year. The PM Bureau is committed to further streamlining U.S. – India defense sales, which 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 to 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 ($2.6 billion), Apache helicopters ($2.3 billion), P-8I maritime patrol aircraft ($3 billion), and M777 howitzers ($737 million). India was the first non-treaty partner to be offered a MTCR 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 F/A-18 – two state of the art fighter aircraft that India is currently evaluating. These platforms provide critical opportunities to enhance India’s military capabilities and protect shared security interests in the Indo-Pacific region.
Since 2008, the U.S. has also sold to India over $6.6 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 categories of DCS to India include aircraft, electronics, and gas turbine engines.
The PM Bureau is the U.S. government lead for building peacekeeping cooperation with India. India is consistently among the top four contributors of military and police personnel to UN peacekeeping operations, with nearly 7,000 personnel deployed at any given time. Since 2016, India and the United States have 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, are co-sponsored by the U.S. Global Peace Operations Initiative, are co-led by U.S. and Indian instructors, and have recently expanded to include African course alumni as part of the instructor cadre. The fourth course is set to begin in June 2019. Additionally, in February 2018, two Indian medical officers participated as instructors in a U.S.-led mobile training team in Zambia. 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, and we will continue to look for ways to expand this partnership to support our shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region.
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, the Bay of Bengal Initiative, established in 2018 with $86 million in Foreign Military Financing for maritime capacity building in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Maldives, will 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, particularly within the Quadrilateral mechanism, to coordinate capacity building and security assistance efforts to eliminate redundancies and to ensure we are not missing any 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 has 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.
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.