U.S. Mission India’s Press Conference ahead of Aero India 2023
Sunday, February 12, 2023, Bengaluru
(Remarks as Prepared for delivery)
- Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Ambassador A. Elizabeth Jones
- Jedidiah P. Royal, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs
- Major General Julian C. Cheater, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs
- Rear Admiral Michael L. Baker, Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché, U.S. Embassy New Delhi
Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. Ambassador A. Elizabeth Jones
Good morning. It’s an honor to be with you here at Aero India 2023.
The size of this year’s U.S. Delegation to Aero India is one of the biggest ever. It’s my pleasure to be joined here today by my esteemed colleagues:
- Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Royal;
- Major General Cheater; and
- Senior Defense Official Rear Admiral Baker;
The U.S.-India strategic partnership is one of our most consequential relationships. In that connection, we congratulate India on its G20 Presidency. Our delegation size here today, our impressive USA Partnership Pavilion that opens tomorrow, and growing diplomatic and security cooperation over the last year is evidence of this.
India and the United States are crucial partners in so many ways and look forward to a robust U.S. participation to ensure a free and open, prosperous, connected, rules-based, and resilient Indo-Pacific region, where our democracies can thrive.
Yesterday was the first anniversary of President Biden’s Indo-Pacific Strategy that underpins this commitment.
So – India is our partner of choice. That means, we’re working together to address climate change, improve global health and prepare for new pandemics; cooperate on cyber challenges, build quality infrastructure; and ensure sustainable supply chains.
We’re strengthening our cooperation on critical technologies, from space components to semiconductors.
Two weeks ago, National Security Advisor Doval met with counterparts at the White House to launch our initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology. They pledged to accelerate joint development and production through a bilateral Defense Industrial Cooperation Roadmap.
Of course, economic growth is the key to making all of this possible. There are so many examples of U.S. and Indian companies partnering to build on that growth:
- Tata has ongoing joint ventures with Boeing and Lockheed Martin;
- Raytheon is investing in Bengaluru manufacturing and design;
- General Atomic is engaging with 3rd iTech and Bharat Forge.
U.S. imports more defense articles from India than does any other country.
The U.S. does more joint exercises with India than any other country does.
Each new partnership helps to ensure the economic resilience needed to maintain a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
We look forward to addressing your questions.
Jedidiah P. Royal, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs
It’s an exciting time for me to be here in Bengaluru for the Aero India show. Congrats.
We are at a unique moment in the U.S.-India defense partnership.
Our countries are more closely aligned than at any other time in history, driven by converging strategic interests and our shared vision for the region.
From our perspective, we know that a free and open Indo Pacific requires a strong and militarily capable India, and the United States is excited to partner with India in promoting this shared vision for the future.
The Biden-Harris administration is focused on putting maximum effort into bolstering India’s military capabilities and rise as a defense industrial power.
Two weeks ago, I was proud to represent the Department of Defense as the U.S. and Indian national security advisors launched a new initiative on critical and emerging technologies aimed at transforming our technology partnership and at elevating our cooperation.
Defense industrial cooperation was a key area of focus, look forward to using this visit to advance this work.
And while this initiative is new, this isn’t a new phenomenon. American defense firms have been integrated into India’s defense ecosystem for decades, and the United States is proud of that fact.
These close partnerships have generated tens of thousands of jobs in India and enabled critical transfers of technology and manufacturing expertise to India.
U.S. companies have established engineering centers and manufacturing hubs and have also invested in building R&D centers that harness India’s incredibly talented scientists and engineers to advance cutting edge R&D projects.
American firms have also played a major role in supporting India’s growing aerospace and defense exports.
According to Indian government export data, the United States accounts for one of the largest export destinations of aerospace and defense products in India.
In the last 5 years alone, U.S. investments in India have generated roughly a quarter of India’s defense exports.
Clearly, this robust and long-standing partnership goes beyond defense sales headlines. It includes a rich record of collaboration between our defense industrial bases. We are now at a moment of both opportunity and urgency.
This means that we are going to work closely with India on co-producing and co-developing technologies that will support India’s own defense modernization goals and its ability to export to partners across the Indo-Pacific.
From our perspective, these opportunities lie in the space where capabilities are operationally relevant for U.S. and Indian objectives; where our defense firms have a strong record of collaboration; and where enhanced Indian industrial capacity can support global demand.
I recognize that the challenges here are significant, and that it is going to take a lot of creativity, flexibility, and persistence to meet our shared expectations.
Both the U.S. and India have features of our systems that require deliberate and dedicated approach to identify and implement combined projects.
But I take comfort in the strong track record our countries have of working through tough issues and of building a broad-based security partnership.
And ultimately, the U.S.-India defense industrial partnership is an enormous part of the future that we envision in the Pentagon, fully consistent with the U.S. National Defense Strategy.
Major General Julian C. Cheater, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs
Thank you very much for the warm welcome, and thank you to the Government of India for hosting this world-class exhibition.
It is truly an honor to be here today as part of the U.S. delegation. As Ambassador Jones remarked, our presence at Aero India underscores the importance the Department of the Air Force and U.S. Government place on our growing strategic partnership with India.
Our relationship is built on shared values and a common vision – that of a free and open Indo-Pacific. And to advance that common vision, the United States and India have significantly expanded the range and depth of defense cooperation.
Designating India as a Major Defense Partner in 2016 was a significant milestone in our relations. The status, which is unique to India, elevated U.S. defense trade and technology-sharing with India to a level commensurate with our closest allies and partners.
India is now one of our premier security partners in the Indo-Pacific, and we are further deepening defense ties through activities like exercises, cooperation agreements, and defense industrial partnerships.
To provide just a few examples:
We are holding increasingly complex exercises, which is a reflection of India’s Major Defense Partner status. This year marks the third time that the U.S. Air Force and IAF joined together in the biannual exercise Yudh Abhyas [YOUD Ab-hee-AHSS] to develop interoperability in C-17 high-altitude airlift operations and the use of precision airdrop. We even had U.S. air crew fly on Indian C-17s and vice versa as we shared lessons learned. These efforts help focus future training efforts, such as the upcoming Exercise COPE INDIA in April 2023 that will expand beyond mobility aircraft to also include combat aircraft.
We are strengthening our ability to communicate and operate jointly. India’s growing use of defense equipment from the United States and other Western partners has not only strengthened India’s military, but also increased our interoperability. That interoperability is paying big dividends today as India provides critical aid and supplies to Operation DOST an ongoing earthquake relief effort in Turkiye and Syria that includes five C-17s transporting 135 tons of specialized equipment and other relief material, including a field hospital and search and rescue personnel to Turkiye. In addition, a C-130J transported 6 tons of relief material to Syria. Of note, India has the largest C-17 Globemaster fleet outside the United States with 11 aircraft that fly all over the world.
Our security partnership also extends beyond acquisitions to include ongoing efforts on defense industrial cooperation. Through the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, the United States and India work together on co-production and co-development of defense equipment. Under DTTI, we signed the first aerial-launched UAV co-development project agreement in September 2021, the largest ever Research and Development effort between our two militaries. This co-development agreement further operationalizes India’s status as a Major Defense Partner and builds upon our existing strong defense cooperation.
And last but certainly not least is an increasing emphasis on starting space cooperation.
That includes sharing Space Situational Awareness information, which will help set the conditions for a secure, stable, and accessible space domain, and future discussions that we welcome on areas of potential space defense cooperation.
As democracies bookending the Indo-Pacific, the United States and India share a common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific. And it is these forms of mutually beneficial engagement that build trust, increase interoperability and information-sharing, and bolster our strategic partnership.
Again, we appreciate this opportunity to meet with our Indian partners and further our defense cooperation in support of our shared values.
Thank you again to Ambassador Jones, the Government of India, the industry associations, and everyone else involved in hosting us over these next few days. It is a privilege to be here and contribute to strengthening the partnership between our two great nations.
Rear Admiral Michael L. Baker, Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché, U.S. Embassy New Delhi
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy, we are excited to be in Bengaluru for Aero India. The U.S.-India Defense relationship is an important element of that strategy – and our Defense Partnership is stronger than ever. This week you will have the chance to see American Air power operating alongside the Indian Air Force: we plan to have a variety of aircraft here, one of our largest delegations ever, and the U.S. Air Force Pacific Band who will perform at venues around Bengaluru.
India and the United States train, exercise and operate together to deter aggression and advance a free and open Indo-Pacific. India and the United States build advanced military capability together that enables our maritime democracies to provide security for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The India – U. S. Defense Partnership is stronger than ever and we are better together.