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India, US negotiating UAV co-development programme, says Pentagon official

Washington: The US and India are negotiating a co-development programme for the air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a top Pentagon official has said.

Addressing the India Ideas Summit organised by the US-India Business Council on Tuesday, the top Pentagon official said that the US Air Force research labs have signed a cooperative research and development agreement with an Indian startup to support the development of the air-launched UAV.

"I would like to highlight a very exciting project we are currently negotiating -- air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV will be a co-development programme between the US Air Force Research Labs, the Indian Air Force, India's Defense Research and Development Organisation, and ? an Indian startup company," said Ellen M Lord, Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment.

The Pentagon's point person for the ambitious US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), Lord said that they were planning to hold the next DTTI group meeting in the week of September 14 and the second meeting of the DTTI industrial collaboration forum the week before.

Often described as the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, Lord said that the US-India defence cooperation has made great strides in the last few years. This cooperation has led to closer relationships between the two governments and also increased stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Noting that US defence sales to India have grown exponentially over the last 10 years, she said the US is striving to become India's first choice in defence solutions. The last year has seen many firsts in DTTI, she said, adding that the first project agreement for co-development is in negotiation.

The first industrial cooperation forum was held, she said. She also announced the release of the industrial guidance for the participation with DTTI. The industrial cooperation is a key focus area for the future of defence collaboration and we think that this industry guidance will increase industrial collaboration within the DDTI framework," she said.

"The United States welcomes any partnership that enhances US national security objectives, decreases defence procurement costs and leads to greater supply chain stability,? Lord said. Noting that the US government reviewed and commented on India's defence procurement procedure or DPP, Lord said they were encouraged to see the procedures for loans and leases added.

?The United States is aware that many countries, including India, use offset in defence sales. The US government will not take part in any negotiation concerning offsets between the industry and a foreign government. "We encourage all governments to ensure that offset processes are transparent and applied equally to all competitors,? Lord said.

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