Aero India 2019: Top Pentagon officials and American aerospace companies to visit India

Encouraged by the growing India-US relations especially in the defence and strategic areas, several top Pentagon officials along with US industry executives will be traveling to Bengaluru Feb 20 – 24 for Aero India 2019 event to showcase strong US government interest. The high level official as well business delegation having representatives of defence companies companies like BAE Systems, Textron Aviation, Raytheon, AECOM, Harris Corporation, Telephonics Corporation, Boeing, General Atomics, Northrop Grumman, and TCI, is being led by world-renowned aerospace scientist Dr Vivek Lall at US-based Lockheed Martin, who has also been appointed to the US Federal Aviation Advisory Committee. The two countries had this year the first ever US-India “2+2” dialogue in New Delhi where on the sidelines of the meeting the COMCASA, a landmark military communications and security pact was signed. Besides the Indo-Pacific region, the air force to air force relationships is another hallmark of strategic ties and trust between nations. The talks were between Minister of External Affairs Minister Mrs Sushma Swaraj and Minister of Defense Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman and both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis. The two countries have already inked the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 and the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) in 2002. The LEMOA agreement allows the use of each other’s land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply, a step toward building defence relations. Sources have confirmed to FE that Lall who over the decades has been regarded as the leading US executive by both governments to help catalyze what now is almost $18 billion dollars of defence trade between both countries will be leading the delegation. The US executives are coming under the umbrella of US India Business Council delegation that has all the top defence manufacturers as its members. Since both India and the US are aspiring to grow together as major defence partners, this visit of the top honchos of the American industry will give chance to companies on both sides to look for more ventures which would compliment each side. Sources also confirmed that several US defence platforms will be visible at the airshow. India has shown interest in several US platforms to be acquired in the years ahead notwithstanding its existing significant relationships with Russia, Israel, and Europe. As Chinese influence continues to grow in the Asian region countries are beefing up their partnerships and alliances to handle potential future threats. The US can play a critical role in the region if it offers its latest technologies to India for the long term. A lot of the US-based defence manufacturers are keen to participate in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s all the major initiatives including Made in India, Skill India, Digital India and others. Top aerospace companies including Boeing Company, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, are already working with companies in India whether from Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) throughout India. Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is also on her maiden visit to the US where besides having a meeting with the US Defence Secretary of state James Mattis, she also met with the top officials in the Pentagon, indicating that the defence ties between the two countries are growing. This is her fourth meeting with Mattis in one single year.


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