India, being designated as a major defense partner (MDP) of the US, could be offered simplified licensing requirements to acquire sensitive military technologies such as those that go into the F-16 and F-18 fighter jets.
The designation “institutionalizes” the cooperation achieved so far between the two countries, an official was quoted as saying by The Hindu Friday.
“The MDP eases the process of licensing for military and dual-use items. It streamlines the process and reduces India’s licensing requirements,” another official said.
Earlier this week, the US Congress passed the National Defence Authorisation Act to enhance defence and security cooperation with India. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter agreed on the provisions of the designation in New Delhi on Thursday. President Barack Obama has to sign the Bill into a law.
A senior official of the Pentagon, with experience in defence acquisition and technology, will be designated to expedite matters for India. However, the status will not help circumvent multilateral control regimes.
Officials said the designation was envisaged as a way to bring India on the same level as the U.S. treaty allies, in the absence of a formal treaty between the two countries.
Officials also said that the progress achieved under initiatives such as the Defence Technology Trade Initiative (DTTI) and the India Rapid Reaction Cell (IRRC) in the Pentagon would continue in the next U.S. administration as it is now enshrined in the US law. India and the U.S. are expected to announce by year-end a major new project under the DTTI.