Ahmedabad: US President Donald Trump announced a defence deal, including for helicopters worth $3 billion, on Monday. And he chose to make the announcement at ‘Namaste Trump’ event in Ahmedabad, the grand welcome function planned by India.
“I’m pleased to announce that tomorrow our representatives will sign defence deals worth over $3 billion, to sell absolute finest state-of-the-art military helicopters and other equipment to the Indian armed forces,” said Trump.
“As we continue to build our defence cooperation, the US looks forward to providing India with some of the best and most feared military equipment on the planet. We make the greatest weapons ever made. We make the best and we are dealing now with India,” the US President added.
With a trade deal off the table, India and the US are looking to focus sharply on defence cooperation during Trump’s two-day official visit.
Talks on the finalisation of the Basic Exchange and Co-operation Agreement (BECA) are scheduled to begin as early as March, one of the officials familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity. BECA will allow India and the US to exchange geo-spatial maps to get pinpoint military accuracy of automated hardware systems and weapons such as cruise and ballistic missiles, apart from its civilian use.
In addition, the two countries are likely to sign multiple deals for defence purchases, added this person. This includes a $2.4 billion deal for 24 MH-60R Sikorsky helicopters, and a $930 million deal for six Apache AH-64E attack helicopters for the army from Boeing, both of which were approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security last week. There could also be a further order of eight Poseidon P8I multi-mission aircraft for the Indian Navy and a full spectrum missile shield for New Delhi.
Since Trump took office in 2017, long-standing trade differences between the world’s biggest democracies have come to the fore, with Trump calling India the “tariff king”.
The two have warred over everything from tariffs on farm goods to Harley-Davidson motorbikes and price caps on medical devices and India’s new rules on local data storage.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla said Trump’s visit will be “brief but intense”. The US President and his wife Melania will also visit the Taj Mahal in Agra before coming to Delhi.