The US is pushing to manufacture exclusively the F-16 (F-21 rebadged) fighter in India

New Delhi: India and the US are close to reaching an agreement on industrial security, that will allow Washington to transfer defence technology for building indigenous combat jets and for use in other joint ventures, according to media reports.

However, Washington’s insistence on receiving guarantees from New Delhi that ensure the protection of technology and classified information might still cause the Indian government to doubt its reliability to deliver, an Indian security analyst has said. 

Pravin Sawhney, a former Indian Army officer and security expert, said India still sees America as less reliable than other countries such as Russia, Israel, and France on matters related to defence procurement, despite being the go-to nation for world-class and cutting edge defence technology.

Sputnik: India and the US have been in negotiations over an Industrial Security Agreement since 2017, under which Washington would offer high-grade technology to India. The pact may be signed after cabinet approval, yet Washington is perceived as suspect and unreliable in terms of deliverables. Why?

Today, America is the storehouse of world-class technology. There is no country that beats America on this high-end cutting edge technology. One of the problems is the cost, technology is [en] par. America would not give its cutting-edge technology to any country, not even to its NATO allies, forget about India. We are not even in an alliance with the Americans. We only have a partnership. Now, having said that if you see their track record- that track record is not very encouraging.

Sputnik: The US enjoys an enviable reputation on the global defence technology market, why does it shy away from offering it to countries like India?

Pravin Sawhney: India is a major defence partner for most countries, including the US. Now, the US is thinking of making India a non-NATO ally. When former Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee was in office, India and the United States started the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP). So, there are a whole lot of acronyms – very attractive; very well sounding, which had a single purpose of giving technology to India. As I said, America invests a lot of money in its technology; America is not a country that will give its technology to any country. So basically, it is a wild goose chase. When I see the track record, I admire America, I admire American technology, but I am also convinced that they will not part with any technology.

Sputnik: If there is reluctance on the part of the United States to part with its technology, then why does it offer it to interested parties?

Pravin Sawhney: I think there is a purpose, and that purpose is to bind us, bind us with that promise that the Americans are pushing this geopolitical activity which is centred around what they call the Indo-Pacific region. Now, when you see the Indian Ocean region, India has a very important place, our geographical location is very important. Then we have a very huge military. I mean, we are already a 2.5 billion dollar economy, we hope to be an over five trillion dollar economy by 2024. Therefore, there is a lot of potential; there is a lot of promise. So, I think they basically bind us with that promise. We, however, should go for a reliable partner and we should go to anybody.