After biggest military deal with US, India eyes military pacts


New Delhi : After signing its biggest-ever military deal with the US for eight long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft for the Indian Navy for $2.1 billion, New Delhi is now eyeing to fast track three key military pacts with Washington.

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These include one under which their militaries can refuel ships and aircraft in cashless transactions that are balanced at the end of the year.

Apart from the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), the other pacts pending are the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) that will enable the two militaries communicate on a common platform, and an end-user agreement governing the sale of US military hardware to India.

“The deal for the eight P8I reconnaissance aircraft has been signed directly with the Boeing Company. The terms and the end-user agreement governing the use of sensitive technology is yet to be sorted out with the US government,” a senior navy official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

These three pacts have been in the limbo for long.

India has so far refused to sign the end user agreement in its present form for being “intrusive” and has asked for modifications.

“It’s like this: we purchase, say, night vision goggles from the US and deploy these on the LoC (Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir). Obviously, we cannot allow US inspectors to physically verify this,” an official said.

“Therefore, we’ll work out a system where we will certify where the equipment is located and the US will take our word for it,” the official added.

The LSA would require both countries to provide their bases, fuel and other kind of logistics support to each others’ fighter jets and naval warships.

Explaining the advantages of the agreement, the official said: “India had to spend close to Rs.100 crore (Rs.1 billion) for participating in the Red Flag exercise (with the US Air Force last year).

“Had an LSA been in place, India would not have had to physically pay the money but would have provided reciprocal facilities in this country whenever the US defence forces required them,” the official added.

The US has agreements similar to the LSA in place with some 65 countries.

In most cases, it is called the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA) that was formerly known as the NATO Mutual Support Act. It was enacted to simplify exchanges of logistic support, supplies, and services between the US and NATO forces. It was amended in 1986, 1992 and 1994 to permit ACSAs with non-NATO countries.

With the Indian and US militaries increasing their engagement in war games on land, in the air and at sea, CISMOA has become a necessity to ensure there are no communication glitches.

“With the increasing number of military exercises between the countries, the pact is set to be given the green signal soon,” the official said.

The P8I, which is based on the Boeing-737 platform, has been specifically developed for the Indian Navy’s requirements. The aircraft, which is still in the conception stage, is expected to fly by 2012.

This will be the second big-ticket purchase from the US in a year after a $1 billion agreement inked last January for six Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the Indian Army’s Special Forces.