WASHINGTON -- This is a transformational moment in the U.S.-India defense partnership, a senior Defense Department official said at the Pentagon today.
"To have the world's largest democracies with some of the most innovative workers and companies working more closely together on strategic technologies and how we can leverage them for security is a natural next step in this relationship," the official said during a briefing.
The United States and India are increasingly doing things in their defense partnership that people wouldn't have said was possible 20 years ago, the official said.
For instance, 20 years ago, there were no U.S. defense sales to India at all, the official said. "Now, we're talking about co-producing and co-developing major systems together."
Also, India is joining the U.S. in annual air and maritime exercises in the region, the official said.
"We now have working groups on everything ranging from cyberspace and critical technologies to maritime security, and India is leading in those forums together with the U.S. and like-minded partners," the official said.
Critical technologies include artificial intelligence, advanced sensor development, unmanned systems, quantum physics and undersea domain awareness, the official said.
India will be a critical strategic partner with the United States in the coming decades. India's growing commitment to playing a more engaged international role, including in the Indo-Pacific Quad, demonstrates a new and growing willingness to join the United States to protect and advance a shared vision of a free, open and rules-based global order, the official said.
Spotlight: Focus on Indo-Pacific
The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, commonly called the Quad, is a strategic security dialogue among Australia, India, Japan and the United States.
Tomorrow, the new INDUS X initiative takes place, bringing together U.S. and Indian stakeholders, research and academic institutions, industry, small startups and investors.
That initiative will focus on accelerating and scaling up commercial technologies that have military applications, providing agreed-upon standards for certification and testing, and making it easier for startups to move their technology into the defense spaces and obtain the capital to do so, the official said.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is hosting the event, INDUS X will be held in Washington just prior to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's White House visit.
"INDUS X has the potential to be a catalyst for India to achieve its target of $5 billion in defense exports by 2025 and for India to diversify its defense supply chain. The conference will feature a defense exhibition where firms will showcase technologies and platforms that can benefit both countries' border security, maritime domain awareness, space situational awareness and more, contributing to a more stable and secure Indo-Pacific region," according to a statement on the Chamber's website.