WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter this week proposed ways to deepen defense ties between the United States and India, including co-development of the next version of the Javelin anti-tank missile now built by Raytheon Co and Lockheed Martin Corp.
Carter, speaking at a news conference in India, said the two countries were already expanding military relations through exercises and increased trade in weapons. But he said it was time to unleash what he called the “enormous untapped potential between our private sectors in the defense field.”
The Pentagon’s No. 2 official said the United States was trying to remove bureaucratic hurdles impeding technology transfer between the two countries, and was giving priority funding to researchers working with Indian partners in key areas of science and technology.
The Obama administration, mindful of declining U.S. defense spending levels, has tried to expand partnerships with many countries, including India, on military sales, and has dramatically stepped up its advocacy for U.S. arms sales abroad.
India and the United States announced a Defense Trade and Technology Initiative, or DTI, one year ago during a visit to India by then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a joint effort to streamline bureaucratic processes and expand defense trade.
One new initiative, Carter said, involved seeking anticipatory approvals of some weapons projects even before India finalized its military requirements.
A text of his remarks was released in Washington by the Pentagon.
“We on our side have already reached out to U.S. industry to start identifying more transformative co-production and co-development projects that we can undertake together,” Carter said. “We’re going to keep reaching out and keep pushing.”
He said he had proposed one specific project during his meetings in India this week - co-development of the next generation of the Javelin anti-tank missile.
“Rather than simply buying this generation of Javelin, India would be able to ... also co-develop and co-produce the next generation of Javelin for international buyers,” Carter said. “That’s an entirely new proposal intended to reflect the DTI, and it’s being offered to no other country but India.”
Asked about India’s response, Carter said Indian officials had said they needed time to consider the proposal.
He said U.S. government and industry needed to overcome decades of segregation from their counterparts in India. “We don’t have the history that Russia does here, and we’re trying to replicate that,” he said.
Washington was also offering a new electromagnetic technology for catapulting fighter jets off aircraft carriers called EMALS and built by privately held General Atomics to India, Carter said. Other possible areas of cooperation included counter-terrorism to maritime security.
“There are no boundaries from the U.S. point of view, and as far as I know from the Indian point of view,” he said.
Editing by Eric Walsh