Qioptiq logo Raytheon


By Bulbul Singh

12 Nov 10. Following U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement on lifting export curbs on several Indian defence establishments, India and the United States are now exploring new areas of collaboration. Sources said, “The two countries will collaborate in the joint development of an anti-ballistic missile system as trading curbs on Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) have been lifted.

President Obama made the announcement to lift trading restrictions against India’s Defence Research and Development (DRDO), Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and BDL at a press conference immediately after holding official level talks with the Indian Prime Minister ManMohan Singh on November 8th in New Delhi. Trading restrictions imposed on DRDO, ISRO and BDL, imposed by Washington after India tested a nuclear bomb in 1974 will now be removed. This will lead to trading in dual-use technology between India and the United States and also entering into joint development of weaponry and equipment between India and United States.

“The United States will be able to tap the Indian defence market, which was hitherto lost due to trading restrictions,” said a DRDO official. India is to launch its second phase of a Missile Development Programme as the first phase launched in 1983 has been completed last year which saw the induction of the Agni and Prithvi series of ballistic missiles, including the Akash air defence system.

The U.S. could exploit a major share in India’s second phase of the missile development programme estimated to be worth over $20 billion.

After the imposition of trading restrictions in 1974, India switched to other countries for joint development of core technologies. India forged ties with Russia in the development of the BrahMos anti-ship supersonic missile and is now to develop a fifth generation aircraft which will have a market of around $20 billion for the Indian Air Force. France is also forging tie-ups with India to jointly develop Low Level Quick Reaction Missiles worth over $2 billion and Israel is a major partner in a variety of cruise and Medium Range SAM development projects.

Obama’s decision to lift trading restrictions against India will help the United States regain the defence market at a time when its own economy is not booming and it needs more jobs.

Key areas where the two countries would see collaboration will be development of hypersonic technologies and anti-ballistic missile defence systems.

While India is already developing its own anti-ballistic missile system, the Prithvi Air Defence system, India will need to acquire variety of air defence systems, to fill the gap in its air defence shield against incoming nuclear tipped missiles from China and Pakistan observed a senior Indian defence ministry official.

In the months ahead a number of American delegations are likely to visit ISRO, DRDO and BDL to study the infrastructure at these organisations to draw a future course of action for the joint development of weapons and equipment and space ventures.

“India and the United States have great potential in the development of satellites including military satellites,” said sources. However, for all these ventures to materialize, India and the United States will have to overcome more legal restrictions, as U.S. law is rigid and a number of agreements will have to be inked.

Back to article list