|US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defense secretary Mark Esper will be in Delhi later this month|
NEW DELHI: Seeking to build close ties amid an ongoing conflict with China, India and the United States of America are expected to sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) for geospatial cooperation during the 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries to be held on October 26-27 this month in New Delhi.
This is the third foundational agreement to be signed between India and the US after the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement and the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement in 2016 and 2018 respectively.
“The BECA is expected to be signed during the meeting between US secretary of state Mike Pompeo and defence secretary Mark Esper on October 26-27 with their Indian counterparts including external affairs minister S Jaishankar and defence minister Rajnath Singh. The agreement will ensure that the armed forces of the two countries start talking to each other on enhancing geospatial cooperation,” government sources said here.
Sources said the negotiations between both the sides on this agreement had been completed some time ago and after the clearance by the government, it is ready to be signed during the dialogue.
It is believed that the signing of BECA and the follow-up arrangements between the sides will allow India to use American inputs on geospatial intelligence and to enhance military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise, ballistic missiles and drones.
India and the US have been working very closely in the field of defence and security as India has acquired American equipment worth around $20 billion in the last 15 years including the C-17 Globemasters and the C-130J Super Hercules Special Operations transport aircraft which have become the mainstays of the Indian Air Force’s heavy-lift fleet.
In the field of choppers also, the American Chinook heavylift and Apache attack helicopters have come as force multipliers for the armed forces. The Army is also using the Ultra Light Howitzers from the US while the Navy has also recently opted for the American MH-60 Romeo anti-submarine warfare multirole choppers.
The two sides are also going to hold regular military exercises, with the Army set to hold the ‘Yudh Abhyas’ and ‘Vajra Prahar’ with American troops early next year while the Navy is going to take part in the Malabar series exercise in November in the Indian Ocean with the Australian and Japanese Navies also set to participate.