Indo-US strategic relationship matures up, COMCASA, BECA agreed upon

NDA drops inhibitions, signs pacts with the US, formerly stonewalled by UPA

The strategic nearsightedness of the UPA thinking on Indo-US relationship has been finally done away with. The NDA government has been successful in signing an accord with the US that promises to do a whole lot for the Indian military.

The UPA had stonewalled attempts by the US to ink the three so-called “fundamental military agreements” during its 10-year tenure on the ground that it would “compromise the strategic autonomy” of India.

However, the present day government has found it logical to let that flaw in strategic thinking. India is now ready to go ahead with two more bilateral military pacts, procure helicopters worth $3 billion and participate in a joint tri-Service amphibious exercise for the first time.

With that, the strategic clinch with the US is set to get even tighter. Top government sources say “substantial progress” has now been made towards finalizing the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA)+ and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) between the two countries.

The US contends, this development will allow India more access to advanced military technologies and platforms with encrypted communications like Predator-B and MQ-9 Reaper drones. The NDA govt inked the first one on reciprocal logistics support – Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement with India-specific safeguards in 2016.

“The broad contours of COMCASA have been finalized…only some text-based negotiations are left. The BECA draft is also under discussion. We have insisted on India-specific assurances, much like what was done in LEMOA, and a status on par with its closest allies,” said a source.

Sources say the two countries have also decided to hold their first-ever mega tri-Service amphibious exercise to supplement the flurry of war games they already hold every year from the top-notch naval Malabar (with Japan as the third participant) to the counter-terror Vajra Prahar and Yudh Abhyas between their armies.

The IAF, incidentally, is slated to induct 12 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy-lift choppers in the 2019-2020 time frame under the contracts inked for them in September 2015. This deal is estimated to be worth Rs 13,952 crore and Rs 8,048 crore respectively.

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