US envoy: Opportunity to see talent of India’s defence industry

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US Ambassador to India Kenneth I. Juster and US Defense Attaché Eileen H Laubacher (left) during a press conference in Lucknow Tuesday. (Express Photo: Vishal Srivastav)

KENNETH I. Juster, US Ambassador to India, who is leading the US delegation at the 11th edition of the Government of India’s Defence Exhibition, DefExpo 2020, here, said Tuesday that it was a “great opportunity to see the talent and innovation of India’s defence
industry.”

The theme of DefExpo 2020 is ‘Digital Transformation of Defence.’ Defence exhibitions such as these demonstrate that industry in the United States and India, along with our respective governments, share a common understanding regarding the nature of the modern battlefield, Juster said.

“We share the belief that, in order for India to ensure its defence and work with like-minded nations in pursuit of common security objectives, it is critical that India moves toward systems - not just weapons - that are effective, agile, and resilient. In addition, we believe that India must ultimately move toward systems that are interoperable with the equipment and networks of its security partners.” the US Ambassador told mediapersons in Lucknow.

He said the US firms that are participating in the exposition produce battle-proven, high-technology equipment and networks and have supplied modern land and sea-based fighter aircraft; ballistic missile defence systems; the most advanced, networked avionics equipment; and secure communications equipment for the United States and partners. “They are poised to offer the same to India.” said the Ambassador.

He added, “I have found in my travels in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere in India that the potential for industry partnership between our two countries on state-of-the-art defence equipment is enormous.” Juster said he looked forward to pursuing opportunities to expand India-US cooperation as the Indian government was in the process of establishing defence industrial corridors in Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

He said US firms participating in the event were partnering with companies across India, including in Uttar Pradesh’s Defence Corridor, to produce defence equipment not just for his countries’ militaries, but for partner nations, too. Citing an example, he said Tata has partnered with Lockheed Martin to build all C-130 tails and F-16 wings, while Boeing is collaborating with HAL [Hindustan Aeronautics Limited] to produce all AH-64 Apache fuselages in Hyderabad.

Maintaining that along with strengthening of ties, the need is also to over the barriers, Ambassador said, “US defense cooperation with India continues to grow stronger - and defence trade among our companies is creating skilled jobs right here in India.”

Replying to a question on current bilateral cooperation between India and US, he said that when he first started working in the area of US-India relationship in 2001, there were virtually no defence sales between India and US, adding that today this number (defence sales) stands at nearly $18 billion.

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