March 14, 2024

Washington DC: “The U.S.-India relationship is a defining strategic partnership and an evolving one. In the mid-to-long term, sustaining a strong, innovative and resilient defence industrial base will be paramount to the security and prosperity of the current world order” said Pradeep S. Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International.

Mehta was speaking at an event organized by CUTS International and the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum Washington DC titled, “Future of U.S.-India Defense Partnership” to highlight the strength of the bilateral defense and security partnership between the United States and India, and the growing U.S.- India strategic relationship in the Indo-Pacific region.

This event is being organized as part of CUTS International 40th Anniversary events happening around the world and this was the 10th in this series. Dr Ngozi Iweala-Okonjo, Director General, World Trade Organization (WTO) at Geneva, Switzerland on 6th April 2023, kicked off the series of the anniversary events.

Participants at this high-level roundtable discussion included Siddharth Iyer, Director for South Asia, Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy), U.S. Department of Defense; Ryan Holloway, Political-Military Officer, U.S. Department of State; Vikram Singh, Senior Advisor, Defense and Aerospace, USISPF; Meaghan Byrne, Director Aerospace and critical emerging technologies, USISPF and representatives from noted and prominent industry like Mahindra Defense, Tata Defense, Lockheed Martin, Boeing among others.

Experts at the roundtable mentioned that the paradigm of this relationship has changed and the past twelve months, specifically have seen rapid and increased cooperation in the aerospace and defense sector. The discussants highlighted the three most important areas accelerating this bilateral defense cooperation, namely, technology & innovation cooperation with a roadmap for industrial collaboration, operational engagements, and the scope and texture of bilateral engagements between these two countries.

Furthermore, Mehta mentioned that after analysing the US’s first-ever “National Defense Industrial Strategy”, a modern defense industrial ecosystem is “key to integrated deterrence and” building enduring advantages for US’s national security”.

“However, this report highlights a few challenges for the US, including critical workforce shortages in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and advanced innovation and manufacturing. Here, a partner or a friend like India which has an abundance of skilled manpower and its youth specializing in STEM-related areas could potentially address this challenge”.

Experts at the roundtable highlighted that the paradigm of this relationship has changed and the past twelve months, specifically have seen rapid and increased cooperation in the aerospace and defense sector.

One panellist remarked that this relationship had never been so deeply entrenched in tech collaboration before and it was during the pandemic that the tech collaboration between the two gained momentum. Apart from these, cooperation on liaisoning purposes, cyber connectivity and maritime cooperation grew.

In a mid-to-long term cooperation between these two countries could involve areas which have never been on the table and discussed earlier. The panellists agreed that both sides, intentions are high to take things forward within the Quad framework, develop a joint technological collaboration, and work together on maritime and underwater domains.

Towards the close of the roundtable, panellists answered the questions by suggesting that the potential areas of collaboration in defense innovation and technology could be in the direction of cooperation on operational priorities, increased public-private engagement, increasing the role of private players including MSMEs in the larger industrial base, more transparency in IPR-related issues and military modernisation by working more on co-producing critical technologies.

Furthermore, the immediate need from both sides should be to keep the ongoing momentum going and harvest the benefits from initiatives such as iCET, and INDUS-X among others.

Lastly, panellists acknowledged that the American government prioritises Indian military modernisation, increasing interoperability, and aligning more with India on producing critical and emerging technologies.
The discussion saw more than forty-five participants. Purushendra Singh, Asstt Director of CUTS International said that we remain committed to facilitating such meaningful dialogues that contribute to the strengthening of bilateral ties, fostering mutual understanding and cooperation between nations, especially to strengthen the Indo-Pacific region.

For more information, please contact:
Purushendra Singh:, +91-8005853806