Doval, Sullivan set vision for next chapter of strategic tech partnership | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Doval, Sullivan set vision for next chapter of strategic tech partnership

Jun 17, 2024 08:51 PM IST

Most of the initiatives were aimed at countering Beijing’s efforts to acquire dominance of strategic technologies and vital supply chains

NEW DELHI: India and the US on Monday agreed on the next steps in their strategic technology partnership and pledged to remove long-standing barriers to strategic trade, while moving forward with key initiatives in defence, space and critical technologies.

Indian NSA Ajit Doval and US NSA Jake Sullivan witness the signing of agreements during the iCET meeting in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI)
Indian NSA Ajit Doval and US NSA Jake Sullivan witness the signing of agreements during the iCET meeting in New Delhi on Monday. (ANI)

These issues figured in the second meeting of the India-US initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET) co-chaired by National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval and his visiting American counterpart Jake Sullivan. The iCET marks the pinnacle of joint efforts to develop advanced military hardware, set standards for emerging technologies, and bolster collaboration to develop the next generation of chips and telecommunications, people familiar with the matter said.

Sullivan twice put off a trip to India this year because of the Biden administration’s preoccupation with the Israel-Hamas conflict, and his visit amid continuing geopolitical turmoil reflected the US desire to maintain continuity following the formation of a new coalition government in India, the people said.

Doval and Sullivan set the “vision for the next chapter of our strategic technology partnership”, according to a joint statement issued after the iCET meeting. These efforts will focus on research and development that delivers secure, reliable and cost-competitive technology solutions for the Indian and American people and partners around the world.

While preventing the leak of sensitive and dual-use technologies to countries of concern, India and the US committed themselves to concrete action in the coming months to address long-standing barriers to bilateral strategic trade, technology and industrial cooperation, including in the commercial and civil space sector, the joint document said.

While the joint document made no mention of China, the people said most of the initiatives were aimed at countering Beijing’s efforts to acquire dominance of strategic technologies and vital supply chains.

In the field of defence, the two sides welcomed discussions on India’s planned acquisition of MQ-9B drones, possible co-production of land warfare systems and progress in other co-production initiatives outlined in the India-US Roadmap for Defense Industrial Cooperation.

India intends to acquire 31 MQ-9B drones to bolster its surveillance and war-fighting capabilities over land and sea. The deal is expected to be worth almost $4 billion.

They also noted progress in negotiations between GE Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the co-production of GE F414-INS6 engines to power India’s future jet fighter fleet.

India and the US have also launched a new strategic semiconductor partnership between General Atomics and 3rdiTech to co-develop semiconductor design and manufacturing for precision-guided ammunition and other national security-focused electronics platforms.

During the second edition of the India-US Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X) Summit in February, the two sides announced an INDUS-X Investor Summit to be held in Silicon Valley in September and the awarding of up to $1.2 million in seed funding to 10 Indian and US companies.

Cooperation has been deepened between the US Defense Innovation Unit and India’s Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) to accelerate the joint adoption of cutting-edge commercial technologies for military solutions.

Among the achievements in the space sector is securing a carrier for the first joint effort between NASA and ISRO astronauts at the International Space Station, which will mark a significant milestone in the space partnership.

The two sides have concluded a Strategic Framework for Human Spaceflight Cooperation to deepen interoperability in space and work toward advanced training for ISRO astronauts at the NASA Johnson Space Center.

They are also preparing for the launch of the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar, a jointly developed satellite to map the whole of the earth’s surface twice every 12 days as part of joint efforts to combat climate change and other global challenges.

India and the US have also launched a new partnership between the US Space Force and the Indian startups, 114ai and 3rdiTech, which focus on advancing space situational awareness, data fusion technologies, and infra-red sensor semiconductor manufacturing.

At the same time, they also strengthened defence space cooperation through the second Advanced Domains Defense Dialogue held at the Pentagon in May, which featured a space table-top exercise.

In the realm of advanced telecommunications, the two sides recently finalised the India-US Open RAN Acceleration Roadmap, while continuing collaboration through the 5G and 6G R&D Task Force. Efforts are continuing between the Indian and US industries for large-scale Open RAN deployments in India and the US.

The two sides are also building partnerships to deploy high-quality, cost-effective Open RAN technology at scale, including through a $5 million USAID Edge Fund grant to Qualcomm and Mavenir to test its ORAN stack in India in partnership with Bharti Airtel, with Qualcomm contributing an additional $9.4 million to the project.

Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) is a nonproprietary version of the Radio Access Network system that allows interoperation between cellular network equipment provided by different vendors. Much of the work done by India and the US in this area is aimed at shutting out Chinese-origin equipment, the people said.

The joint document said India and the US are also cooperating on secure and trusted telecommunications products and components and product-level security. They are strengthening cooperation in 6G technologies through working groups that would potentially focus on evolving 6G-related technologies such as network sensing, intelligent reflecting surface, and a human-centric cognition-based wireless access framework.

In addition to the iCET meeting, Doval and Sullivan have convened an industry roundtable of CEOs and thought leaders from both countries as part of efforts to mobilise private sector investment and partnerships across strategic technology sectors. This roundtable, to be hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Tuesday will be held behind closed doors.

As part of efforts to bridge the innovation ecosystems of the two countries, the Indian and US governments will provide more than $90 million in funding over the next five years for the India-US Global Challenges Institute that will forge high-impact university and research partnerships between institutions in the areas of semiconductor technology and manufacturing, sustainable agriculture and food security, clean energy, pandemic preparedness, and other critical and emerging technologies.

They also announced the selection of the first tranche of funding awards between the US National Science Foundation and the Indian Department of Science and Technology totalling nearly $5 million to support joint research projects in next-generation telecommunications, connected and autonomous vehicles, and machine learning.

There has also been expanded engagement with Indian and US investors in the semiconductor industry in India, to continue building New Delhi’s semiconductor and information communication technology ecosystem.

India and the US also launched a Track 1.5 Biopharmaceutical Supply Chain Consortium – the “Bio-5” – on June 5 with key industry and government stakeholders from India, the US, South Korea, Japan, and the European Commission to enhance resilience in supply chains for active pharmaceutical ingredients and key starting materials.

Further, they are developing a joint strategic framework to optimise biopharmaceutical supply chains to strengthen global supply chains and reduce dependencies on single-source suppliers. This will be led by the department of health and human services and the department of state on the US side, and the departments of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals and the ministry of health on the Indian side.

Following the launch of the iCET by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Quad Summit in Tokyo in May 2022, the two NSAs have driven a concerted effort to collaborate in selected areas of new and emerging technologies, including semiconductors, artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, defence innovation, space, and advanced telecommunications.

Sullivan began his visit with a meeting with external affairs minister S Jaishankar, who said in a post on X that the two sides had a “comprehensive discussion on a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues”. He added, “Confident that India-US strategic partnership will continue to advance strongly in our new term.”

Sullivan also met Modi, who posted on X that India is “committed to further strengthen the India-US Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership for global good”.

PM Modi recalled his positive interaction with Biden on the sidelines of the G7 Summit and expressed satisfaction at the speed and scale of the growing bilateral partnership in all areas and the convergence of views on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Sullivan briefed Modi on the progress in various areas of bilateral cooperation, particularly under the iCET, such as semiconductors, AI, telecom, defence, critical minerals and space.

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