Post-Obama, India may get best of US technologies

By Gulshan Luthra, IANS
Sunday, November 21, 2010

NEW DELHI - The goodwill generated by President Barack Obama’s recent visit to India may lead to this country getting some of the best US defence and other technologies, says Vivek Lall, chairman of the Indo-US Strategic Dialogue in the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce.

The US-educated Lall, who is also Boeing India’s vice president for defence, space and security, told India Strategic defence magazine ( that the US had steadily been opening to India over the last few years, and depending upon government-to- government relations, India could benefit from some of the most sophisticated technologies in science, space, defence and agriculture the US institutions have.

US investments in research and development are far higher than in any other country in the world, and a little inflow of that to India could benefit a spectrum of development projects in this country.

Lall, who has formerly worked in the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), said that while he could not comment on the defence deals between the two countries as they were between the two governments, he could say with confidence that the level of technologies to be released to India would grow in accordance with the growing cooperation between Washington and New Delhi.

Lall has spearheaded the Boeing military equipment sales in India, resulting in the sale of eight Boeing P8-I multi-mission maritime aircraft and 10 C-17 Globemaster III strategic heavy-lift aircraft. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has projected a requirement of six more of the C-17s while the Navy has already announced its intention to acquire four more P8-Is.

Boeing has also sold three Boeing 737-based business jets for VIP use, while another deal for 24 Harpoon Block II anti-shipping missiles is under way. Boeing Apache 64D combat and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters are also in the running for the IAF.

Lall pointed out that any restrictions linked to certain regulations like CISMOA (Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement) or BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geospatial Cooperation) were relevant for the sale of US military equipment to all countries and were not India-specific.

Over time, as the understanding between the two countries grows, which Lall said is bound to, sharing of technologies would be easier and US companies could also source supplies from India.

For instance, both Boeing and Sikorsky have started buying aircraft components from India.

It may be noted that during a recent visit to the US, Boeing officials had indicated cooperation with India in its future manned space missions. A similar interest was also expressed by Lockheed Martin, the world’s biggest military equipment company, which said that depending on government-to-government agreements, it could cooperate with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) not only in manned missions but also in launching small-sized US satellites on Indian launch vehicles.

It may be noted that the sensor which had first detected water on moon’s surface from India’s Chandrayaan mission last year had been supplied by the US military technology giant Raytheon.

Lall said that while he could not go into specifics due to the sensitive nature of military or government-to-government talks between India and the US, he could emphasize that within the next decade or so, India could benefit a lot from high levels of defence and dual use technologies as they are released for India.

(Gulshan Luthra writes on strategic affairs. He can be contacted at

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