Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday spoke to acting US Defence Secretary Christopher C Miller and discussed issues relating to strategic cooperation between the two countries, officials said.
Following the telephonic conversation, Singh said the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) between the two countries in October was a "powerful signal" of the future direction of the defence cooperation. "Spoke on the phone to the US Acting Secretary of Defence Mr Christopher C. Miller today. India-US partnership in the field of Defence sector has matured into a strategic nature over the last decade," he said. Singh said 2020 was a "landmark year" in the India-US defence relationship.
"Conclusion of BECA is a powerful signal of our future direction of high-end cooperation for capability enhancement," he said. Officials said issues relating to strategic cooperation were discussed during the conversation.
The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years. In June 2016, the US had designated India a "Major Defence Partner" intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.
The two countries signed the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation. The two countries signed another pact called COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and sale of high end technology from the US to India.
In October, India and the US sealed the BECA to further boost bilateral defence ties. The deal provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries. According to the US government, India maintains the largest fleets of C-17 and P-8 aircraft outside of the US, and as of 2020, Washington has authorised more than USD 20 billion in defence sales to India.