The United States is expected to sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) with India that allows it to share top-secret satellite and sensor data, aiding New Delhi in selecting military targets.
The agreement could be sealed during the 2+2 India-U.S. ministerial dialogue on October 27. U.S. Secretary of state Michael Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are holding talks with their respective counterparts external affairs minister S Jaishankar and defense minister Rajnath Singh.
The deal would let India gain access to military information which includes maps, nautical and aeronautical charts, commercial and other unclassified imagery, geodetic, geophysical, geomagnetic and gravity data. It will allow the U.S. military provide advanced financial navigational aids and geospatial intelligence which will improve the Indian forces’ accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons like cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and drones.
BECA will help both parties to counter growing Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region thereby strengthening the Quad. India will be able to keep a close watch on the movements of Chinese warships in the Indian Ocean.
Although most of the shared information falls in the unclassified category, there is a provision for providing classified information with proper safeguards in place to ensure that the information is not shared with any third party.
The two countries have already signed General Security of Military Information Agreement (2002), Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (2016), Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (2018) to exchange military logistics and enable secure communications.