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India, US defence deals unlikely during Obama’s visit

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The C-17 Globemaster II heavylift transport aircraft

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and the US are unlikely to ink any major defence deal during American President Barack Obama's visit here next month, a senior Defence Ministry official has said.

"Defence is only one part of major state visits, but an important element. The processes of negotiations are going on with regard to defence deals (with the US) including the C-17s. To say that it will be inked (during Obama's visit) is not correct," Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar told reporters here Wednesday.

Among the deals the two countries are negotiating is the USD 5.8 billion contract for 10 C-17 Globemaster II heavylift transport aircraft.

Apart from the C-17s, India is in negotiations with the US for purchasing 24 Harpoon air-to-ground missile system worth USD 170 million and 145 M777 ultralight howitzers for USD 650 million.

Kumar said acquisitions had to go through a process and it could take anywhere from 26 months to 35 months before it was completed.

With regard to other 'enabling' agreements for acquisition such as the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) and Logistics Support Agreement (LSA), Kumar said the Defence Ministry was in consultation with the armed forces to see how beneficial these foundational agreements would be to them before a final decision on signing it was taken.

CISMOA deals with secure and easier sharing of information through the hi-tech communication equipment that the US would supply to India along with modern platforms and systems such as the P-8I maritime patrol aircraft and six C-130J Special Forces transport aircraft for its Navy and Air Force respectively. LSA is for money-less supplies for warships and military aircraft at each other's sea-ports and airports.

Kumar said the Americans were insisting on CISMOA "to enable them to supply" high technology equipment to Indian armed forces.

"We are in consultation with our Armed Forces to see if it will be beneficial. We are trying to understand how it will help us. We are studying it (agreements). We have asked the US to tell us how it will be of use to us," he said.

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