New Delhi: Amid rising border tensions with China, India and the US on Monday said they would sign the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) setting the stage for a successful round of 2+2 talks between the defense and foreign ministers of the two countries on Tuesday. ALSO READ | India Saved Rs 2,400 Cr Annually Through Use Of Renewable Energy: PM Modi India Energy Forum
The pact represents a deepening of India-US security military ties, a testament to the rapid warming of ties in the short span of two decades. India is seeking to finalise a crucial military pact with the United States during the 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries to be held on 26 and 27 October in New Delhi.
Tightening the strategic partnership between the two countries, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) and the last of four military communication foundational agreements, will be signed in the 2+2 ministerial talks between the countries.
India is delighted to host the US Secretary of Defence, Dr. Mark Esper. Our talks today were fruitful, aimed at further deepening defence cooperation in a wide range of areas.
Today’s discussions will add new vigour to India-US defence relations & mutual cooperation. @EsperDoD pic.twitter.com/MMk11GkSZ1
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) October 26, 2020
As per senior officials, the BECA between the countries will enable the US to share advanced satellite and topographical data for long-range navigation and missile-targeting with India, is expected to be inked during the two-plus-two dialogue.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar will hold the dialogue with their US counterparts Mark Esper and Mike Pompeo during the 2+2 dialogue later this month.
“The agreement will ensure that the armed forces of the two countries start talking to each other on enhancing geospatial cooperation,” said an official.
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The signing of BECA will be a very significant development as it would allow India to use global geospatial maps of the US for accuracy of stand-off weapons like cruise and ballistic missiles.
As per reports, the agreement between the two may also function as a trailblazer of India acquiring armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the United States’ arsenal such as its Predator-B.
As of now, both the countries have signed all the three foundational agreements with each other with both using each other’s designated military facilities for re-fueling and replenishment.
The communication agreement allows both countries to share military information about threats on land and the Indo-Pacific.
The agreement also states as that both the sides will be holding and joining each other military exercises. As the Indian Army is all set to hold the Yudh Abhyas and Vajra Prahar with American troops early next year while, the Indian Navy is going to take part in the Malabar series exercise in November in the Indian Ocean with the Australian and Japanese navies also set to participate along with the US Navy.
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When the US President Donald Trump visited India in February 2020, the decision was take to speed up the BECA agreement. The visit also witnessed two different defence deals worth $3 billion for 24 MH-60 “Romeo” naval helicopters and 6 Apache attack helicopters.
Till now India has signed defence deals worth $21 billion with the US since 2007.
In the last 15 years, working closely in the field of defence and security, India has acquired $20 billion worth of military equipment from America including the C-17 Globemasters and the C-130J Super Hercules Special Operations transport aircraft which have become the mainstays of the Indian Air Force’s heavy-lift fleet.
In 2002, India inked the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with the US, which was followed by the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, and then the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) in 2018.