India and the United States have signed an agreement for cooperation in the development of Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ALUAV), in yet another step to further expand bilateral defence and military cooperation.
The defence ministry said on Friday that the project agreement for ALUAV was signed on July 30 under the overall framework of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative.
The pact was signed between the ministry of defence and the US department of defence.
The defence ministry described it as a significant step towards deepening defence technology cooperation between India and the US.
"The ministry of defence and the US department of defence signed a project agreement (PA) for ALUAV under the joint working group air systems in the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI) on July 30," it said in a statement.
The PA pact falls under the ambit of the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation agreement between the two sides that was first signed in 2006 and renewed in January 2015.
"The PA outlines the collaboration between Air Force Research Laboratory, Indian Air Force, and Defence Research and Development Organisation towards design, development, demonstration, testing and evaluation of systems to co-develop an ALUAV Prototype," the ministry said.
It said 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 US military forces.
Under DTTI, joint working groups on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies have been established to focus on mutually agreed projects in respective domains.
"The PA for co-development of ALUAV has been overseen by the joint working group on air systems and is a major accomplishment for DTTI," the ministry said.
The Indo-US defence ties have been on an upswing in the last few years.
In June 2016, the US had designated India as a "major defence partner".
The two countries have also inked key defence and security pacts over the past few years, including the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016 that allows their militaries to use each other's bases for repair and replenishment of supplies as well as provides for deeper cooperation.
The two sides have also signed COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 that provides for interoperability between the two militaries and the sale of high-end technology from the US to India.
In October last year, India and the US sealed the BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) agreement to further boost bilateral defence ties. The pact provides for sharing of high-end military technology, logistics and geospatial maps between the two countries.