The United States for the first time has conducted a special workshop for Indian military procurement officials on U.S. defense procurement procedures, hoping to capture big-ticket defense contracts from India.
Officials with the U.S. Embassy here said a senior-level military team from the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) was in New Delhi from Sept 13-17 to conduct an extensive briefing on U.S. defense export and sales procedures for 35 Indian Ministry of Defence and military procurement officials.
The briefing covered U.S. defense export licensing and procedures for dealing directly with U.S. defense companies in procuring specific weapon systems, embassy officials said. Indian procurement officials also were briefed on the advantages of adopting the Foreign Military Sale [FMS] route for procuring weapons from the United States: Not only are they less expensive, but lifetime support for spare parts and maintenance is guaranteed.
The United States has made a moderate beginning in establishing a stable military sales relationship with India by securing military orders worth $200 million since Washington lifted military sanctions against India in September 2001, according to U.S. military officials at the embassy. They said the United States hopes that relationship will be viable in the long term, adding that possible big sales to New Delhi could include P-3 Orion maritime aircraft and C-130 transport planes.
The U.S. government also expects regular large defense procurement orders from India once the two nations sign an agreement on dual-use technology. The U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to submit to New Delhi a draft defense export evaluation agreement that would guarantee India will use the U.S.-made high technology systems only for civil and defensive military purposes, and not for nuclear weapon-related technologies or their export to third-party countries, the embassy officials said.
India has high potential value as a market for U.S. defense companies, the same officials said, but the Indian procurement bureaucracy’s red tape has disappointed many U.S. companies in the past.
However, growing cooperation between the two countries’ military services, coupled with the Indian forces’ ground-level training and equipment requirements, should help U.S. companies competing for Indian defense programs, the U.S. embassy officials said.
In an effort to encourage U.S. companies to participate more aggressively in Indian defense competitions, the Ministry of Defence here will host a closed-door session with U.S. defense industry leaders and senior Pentagon officials in November, a senior ministry planning official said.