Indian and American officials have signed an agreement on secure military communications following talks between top officials. Analysts say that this has opened the door for the sale of sensitive US military hardware to New Delhi.
On Thursday, US defence chief, James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held discussions for this purpose with India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi.
Officials from both the countries said that they are very happy with the agreement.
Pompeo described the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement as a “milestone” in the US-India relationship. On the other side, Sitharaman said the pact would definitely enhance India’s defence capability and preparedness.
Analysts predict that this deal would result in the US transferring hi-tech equipment such as the Sea Guardian armed surveillance drones to India.
One of the senior analyst at the Observer Research Foundation, told Al Jazeera that this is an important agreement and will be a huge advantage to India in the naval area. He added that there could be some complications relating to non-US equipment that the Indian military uses in its fighter aircraft, ships and will use in the Russian S-400 missile systems. He also said the protocol that would be used in sharing information linked to non-US systems is something that is not yet clear.
The COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) will be valid for 10 years. After the completion of 10 years, its renewal will be negotiated.This is the second of three “foundational agreements” that the US signs with its military allies. The first one is the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA). The (LEMOA) allows the signatory access to resources from US military bases and vice versa. India has already signed this with the US. The third one is the BECA- Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation. The BECA facilitates the unconditional sharing of geospatial data. India and US have not yet begun negotiations on this.
As a complement to Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, a hotline will also be established between the countries’ defence and foreign minister. There would also be a hotline between US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and the Indian Navy in the interest of security in the Indian Ocean.
US and India already enjoy very good relations and the signing of this agreement would has definitely strengthened the ties between the two biggest democratic countries in the world.