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02:45 PM, September 6, 2018
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COMCAS Agreement Opens Door to US Armed Drone Sales to India
General Atomics MQ-9A armed drone: USAF photo

India and the United States today signed the long-awaited Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA) enabling the potential sale of General Atomics armed drones and the installation of sensitive communications equipment on military platforms sold to India.

The COMCASA was signed after Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman met their US counterparts, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, in the first 2+2 dialogue held between the two countries, media reports of the event said.

During the talks external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had with US secretary of state Michael Pompeo and defence secretary James Mattis, the two countries also decided to set up hotlines between them.

Addressing a joint press conference, Swaraj expressed satisfaction over the agenda of the inaugural dialogue while giving the details of the deliberations.

While Pompeo termed the COMCASA) agreement a "milestone" in the relationship, Sitharaman asserted that the pact will enhance India's defence capability and preparedness.

"Defence came out as the single-most important aspect of our discussions today," Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said.

"We have been discussing how we can more openly communicate back and forth because of the sensitivity of some of the technology... we have to know that when we share this with another like-minded nation, that we can keep it secure," Mattis said.

The COMCASA will facilitate India to obtain critical defence technologies from the US. Top on the list is armed Guardian drones made by General Atomics which India has been seeking for years. It will also allow the installation of high-security US communication equipment on defence platforms being sourced from the US.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration lifted a ban on the export of US armed drones to compete with countries such as China and Israel which had grabbed a large part of the world armed UAV market.

 

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