India-US Agreement for Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle | 08 Sep 2021

Why in News

Recently, India and the US have signed a Project Agreement (PA) to jointly develop an Air-launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ALUAV) or drones that can be launched from an aircraft.

  • The PA was signed under the Joint Working Group Air Systems in the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), between India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the US Department of Defence (DoD).

Key Points

  • About the Project Agreement (PA):
    • Aim: It aims towards design, development, demonstration, testing and evaluation of systems to co-develop an ALUAV prototype.
      • The PA for the ALUAV fell under the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation Memorandum of Agreement between MoD and US DoD.
        • It was first signed in January 2006 and renewed in January 2015.
    • Indian Participants: The PA outlines the collaboration between Air Force Research Laboratory, Indian Air Force, and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).
    • Execution: The Aeronautical Development Establishment at the DRDO and the Aerospace Systems Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory, along with the Indian and US Air Forces are the principal organisations for the execution of the PA.
    • Significance: It was a significant step towards deepening defence technology collaboration between the two nations through co-development of defence equipment.
      • It could in the future lead to joint manufacture of artificial intelligence-enabled drone swarms capable of being launched from aircraft to overwhelm an adversary’s air defence systems.
  • Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI):
    • Formation: The DTTI was announced in 2012 as an ambitious initiative for co-production and co-development of military systems but has never really taken off despite several efforts.
    • Aim:To strengthen the US and India’s defence industrial base by moving away from the traditional “buyer-seller” dynamic toward a more collaborative approach.
      • This would be through exploring new areas of technological collaboration through co-development and co-production.
    • Projects: The projects under DTTI have been identified as the near, medium and long term projects.
      • The near-term projects included so far are Air-launched Small Unmanned Systems (drone swarms), LightWeight Small Arms Technology and Intelligence-Surveillance-Targeting & Reconnaissance (ISTAR) systems.
      • The medium-term projects identified are Maritime Domain Awareness Solution and Virtual Augmented Mixed Reality for Aircraft Maintenance or VAMRAM.
      • The two long term projects are Terrain Shaping Obstacle (lethal munitions) and anti-drone technology called Counter-UAS, Rocket, Artillery & Mortar (CURAM) system for the Indian Army.
    • Joint Working Group: Under the DTTI, Joint Working Groups on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies have been established for focus on mutually agreed projects in respective domains.

Other Major Agreements between India and US

Source: TH