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Washington: The US and India are negotiating a co-development program for the air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a top Pentagon official said Tuesday.

“I would like to highlight a very exciting project we are currently negotiating -- air-launched unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV will be a co-development program between the US Air Force Research Labs, the Indian Air Force, India's Defence Research and Development Organisation, and … an Indian start up company,” said Ellen M Lord, Under Secretary of Defence for Acquisition and Sustainment.

Addressing the India Idea’s Summit organised by the US-India Business Council, the top Pentagon official said that the US Air Force research labs have signed a cooperative research and development agreement with the Indian start-up to support the development of the air-launched UAV.

The Pentagon’s point person for the ambitious US-India Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), Lord said that they are planning to hold the next DTTI group meeting the week of September 14 and the second meeting of the DTTI industrial collaboration forum the week before.

Often described as the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, Lord said that US-India defence cooperation has made great strides in the last few years.

This cooperation has led to closer relationships across the two governments, and it has also increased stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Noting that US Defence sales to India have grown exponentially over the last 10 years, she said the US is striving to become India's first choice in defence solutions.

The last year has seen many firsts in DTTI, she said adding that the first project agreement for co-development is in negotiation.

The first industrial cooperation forum was held, she said. She also announced the release of industrial guidance for participation with DTTI.

“Industrial cooperation is a key focus area for the future of defence collaboration, and we think that this industry guidance will increase industrial collaboration within the DDTI framework," she said.

"The United States welcomes any partnership that enhances US national security objectives, decreases defence procurement costs and leads to greater supply chain stability,” Lord said.

Noting that the US government reviewed and commented on India's defence procurement procedure or DPP, Lord said they were encouraged to see procedures for loans and leases added.

“The United States is aware that many countries including India use offset in defence sales. The US government will not take part in any negotiation concerning offsets between industry and a foreign government. We encourage all governments to ensure that offset processes are transparent and applied equally to all competitors,” Lord said.