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India's defence imports from US set for big leap: report

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14 August 2017

India's defence imports from the United States is expected to take a big leap over the next few years as the country looks to modernise its military hardware thanks to an aggressive China and an ever hostile Pakistan.

And, with the US more than willing to sell its military hardware to India, India's import of defence equipment and systems, which has already touched $15 billion, could make a big leap, according to a report.

In fact, a top US commander has offered to help India modernise its military capabilities in significant and meaningful ways so as to tackle both Chinese aggressiveness and Pakistan's violent extremism.

While the immediate and pressing challenge for the Asia Pacific region is a wayward North Korea, an assertive China and the violent extremism poses the greatest challenge to the region in the long term, PTI quoted a top American commander as saying.

"The biggest challenge is an aggressive and assertive China. But the most immediate challenge today is and remains North Korea," Commander of the US Pacific Command or PACOM Admiral Harry Harris said.

"The other issue that faces all the nations in the (Asia Pacific) region, including the United States, and we're actively engaged in this, is ISIS and kind of violent extremist activity, terrorism really," Admiral Harris said.

India is already looking to the US for some of the latest military hardware, including fighter jets, latest unmanned aerial vehicles and aircraft carriers.

"I believe that the US is ready to help India modernise its military. India has been designated a major defence partner of the US. This is a strategic declaration that's unique to India and the US. It places India on the same level that we have many of our treaty allies," Admiral Harris told PTI.

He said India and the US can jointly work to improve India's military capabilities in significant and meaningful ways.

The Admiral, who has been personally pushing for a strong India-US defence relationship, said he is fairly happy with the level of defence cooperation that exists today between the two countries.

US, he said, has been partnering India in the Malabar naval exercise from 1995. This has now expanded to include Japan and Admiral Harris said, inclusion of Australia would be important for the future.

Noting that the exercise, and the complexity of it, has improved steadily over the years, he said he would like to welcome Australia also into the fold.

The jurisdiction of US Pacific Command starts from India and includes rest of Asia. including China, Japan, Australia and the entire Indo-Pacific region.

Harris reiterated that he believes that the deepening US-India relationship is the defining strategic partnership for the 21st century.

"I'm very interested, and very supportive, of what's happening in India. The Indian armed forces, and that whole piece...I think that the opportunities for our two countries are simply great. It's fantastic," Admiral Harris said.

Noting that India remains an important line of effort at the Pacific Command, the Admiral said America's national leadership is working closely with India's to grow the partnership between the two countries.





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