Lockheed Martin F-16
Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jetsReuters

The United States has said that it will transfer critical and unique defense technology to India in May. The US envoy to India Kenneth Juster made the announcement at the US-India Business Council seminar on the first day of DefExpo-18 in Thiruvidanthai, Tamil Nadu, Wednesday, April 11.

He explained that the US considers India its major defense partner and the ties are "sending a strong signal" to other countries. He said that the US and India will continue working together when it comes to defense and added that the technology that will be transferred to India has not been shared with any other country until now.

"The US has designated India as a major defense partner and it is significant in many respects. The US Congress supports India on both sides of the aisle," the Times of India quoted Juster as saying. He also said that the US and India were in for a long haul and the relation is not something that would only last for a few days.

Speaking of the technology, he explained that it would mostly cater to India's needs when it comes to fighter jet planes and their operation. He said that this technology would help India to build an "entire ecosystem" for companies that manufacture these jets.

The US has also said that it would conduct an exercise of the tri-services – army, air force and navy -- of the Indian armed forces during the "2+2" meeting likely to take place in May.

The "2+2" meeting involves a discussion between the foreign and defense ministers of the two nations. It was supposed to take place in April but was postponed to May so that the US secretary of state Mike Pompeo could complete his Senate confirmation.

US envoy to India Kenneth Juster at DefExpo
US envoy to India Kenneth Juster at DefExpoTwitter/KennethJuster

The two nations have been working towards strengthening their defense ties and are also scheduled to hold a maritime security dialogue in Goa in May. American aerospace and defense major Lockheed Martin is already eyeing India as a major export hub and welcomed India's initiative to procure 110 fighter jets. 

The deal is pegged at Rs 973.8 billion ($15 billion) and the firm had said that it is looking forward to responding to the initial tender.

The firm has also offered the F-16 jets to India as the air force looks to boost its firepower. Not just that, Lockheed Martin has also said that it was willing to shift its F-16 fighter aircraft manufacturing unit to India if the US government would permit the shift, reported IANS. 

A few reports also said that the F-22 was also on offer. However, nothing has been confirmed yet. 

Apart from this, US had also agreed to India having a defense attaché posted at the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) in Bahrain. The Pentagon has also given a nod to the presence of a representative of the Indian Army at the Defence Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx).

The personnel at the DIUx will learn about the operations of the Pentagon and how it works with the private sector on a daily basis.

The US and India also decided to participate in sea exercises off the Indian coast, including the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.