Lloyd J. Austin III, Secretary of Defense, arrived in New Delhi today to begin his ninth official visit to the Indo-Pacific region.
While in India, Austin will meet with Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh to discuss expanding defense industrial cooperation, improving interoperability between militaries, and increasing innovation between defense industrial bases.
In addition, the defense leaders will take part in an expanded dialogue in New Delhi with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Indian Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar.
After that, Austin and Blinken will meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The visit comes at a time when India and the United States are making significant strides in defense industrial cooperation and defense technology innovation.
“It has been a momentous and blistering year of US-India engagement, beginning with the [US-India initiative on Critical Emerging Technology] dialogue convened by our national security advisors in January, the secretary’s visit to New Delhi in June, Prime Minister Modi’s visit here to D.C. also in June, and then President Biden’s visit to India in September for the [Group of 20] Summit,” a senior defense official said earlier this week at the Pentagon. “And I do not think we are finished yet,” the official added. “All of this to say, there is a lot going on right now in the US-India defense relationship.”
The United States and India released a road map this summer for expanding defense industrial cooperation and improving interoperability through the India-United States Defense Acceleration Ecosystem, or INDUS-X.
The road map identified key areas for cooperation among the countries’ defense industrial sectors, such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance technology, undersea domain awareness, air combat and support, munitions systems, and mobility.
During Modi’s visit, the United States and India announced cooperation on critical jet engine technology, which officials described as a significant milestone on the countries’ path toward forging close defense ties.
The countries have also made inroads into the innovation ecosystem, which will help propel their defense industrial cooperation even further.
Officials from the US Defense Department and the Indian Defense Ministry attended the first investor strategy session under the INDUS-X strategic platform on Wednesday.
Defense Innovation Unit Director Douglas A. Beck and Vivek Virmani, chief operating officer for the Indian Defense Ministry’s Innovation for Defense Excellence, or iDEX, joined investors for discussions on harnessing private capital to propel defense innovation as part of the session.
DIU and iDEX also launched the INDIS-X Gurukul Education Series on Wednesday, which will include monthly meetings between government officials and private sector leaders and start-ups from both countries to discuss business and technology development, regulations, and investor pitches.
Following his engagements in India, Austin will travel to South Korea and Indonesia for a series of engagements highlighting the United States’ strong ties with its regional allies.
Austin will meet with South Korean Defense Minister Shin Won-sik and other senior leaders in South Korea as part of the 55th annual Security Consultative Meeting and the United Nations Command’s inaugural meeting of defense ministers.
The visit comes as the United States and South Korea celebrate the 70th anniversary of their alliance this year.
Following the security meeting, the United States and South Korea are expected to issue a defense vision statement highlighting the breadth of their alliance.
Austin will attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministerial Meeting-Plus in Indonesia, which will include China, Russia, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand, in addition to the 10 ASEAN member states and the United States.
For the first time,
Timor Leste will also be present as an observer at this year’s ADMM-Plus.
According to officials, Austin’s trip throughout the region will highlight how the United States and its regional allies are addressing critical issues in the Indo-Pacific.
“Every stop on this trip will highlight how the department is doing more than ever in collaboration with its allies and partners to deliver a shared regional vision of peace, stability, and prosperity,” a senior official said.