U.S., India To Co-develop Air-launched Drones

Brig. Gen. Brian Bruckbauer hosts an office call in honor of his fellow co-chair of the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative Air Vice Marshal Narmdeshwar Tiwari at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., in July. Photo by Andy Morataya/U.S. Air Force

The United States and India signed an agreement to co-develop air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles, the U.S. Air Force announced Friday.

The agreement is the first project planned under the U.S.-India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative, which was designed to promote technology exchange, cooperative research and co-development of defense systems.

“The United States and India share a common vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Deputy Under-Secretary of the Air Force Kelli L. Seybolt said in a statement.

“This co-development agreement further operationalizes India’s status as a major defense partner and builds upon our existing strong defense cooperation,” Seybolt said.

The $22 million project to develop unmanned aerial vehicles is the largest defense research and development collaboration between the United States and India.

Brig. Gen. Brian R. Bruckbauer, director of Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate at the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, signed the agreement at the Pentagon on July 16, and Indian Air Force Air Vice Marshal Narmdeshwar Tiwari signed it in New Delhi on July 30.

The project includes research and development of UAVs, avionics, payload power, propulsion and launch systems and will be carried out between the U.S. Air Force Research Lab and India’s Defense Research and Development Organization.

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“I am proud of the dedicated teamwork and partnership this Project Agreement represents for both of our countries,” Bruckbauer said in a statement.

The announcement of the deal comes after the fifth U.S.-India 2+2 Intercessional Dialogue on Wednesday, which covered strategic partnership on climate, public health, defense, trade, technology and governance.

The DTTI was reached in October after more than a decade of negotiations.

“The main aim of DTTI is to bring sustained leadership focus to promote collaborative technology exchange and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of future technologies for Indian and U.S. military forces,” India’s Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

“Under DTTI, Joint Working Groups on land, naval, air and aircraft carrier technologies have been established for focus on mutually agreed projects in respective domains. The [project agreement] for co-development of ALUAV has been overseen by the Joint Working Group on Air Systems and is a major accomplishment for DTTI.”

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