India, US to sign geospatial pact BECA during 2+2 dialogue to deepen military cooperation
The last of four military communication foundational agreements, BECA will be signed with the US to further tighten the strategic clinch between the two countries during the 2+2 dialogue held on 26 and 27 October
Amid the border tensions with China, India is seeking to finalise a crucial military pact with the United States during the 2+2 dialogue between the defence and foreign ministers of the two countries to be held on 26 and 27 October in New Delhi.
The last of four military communication foundational agreements, Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA) will be signed with the US to further tighten the strategic clinch between the two countries.
Officials on Monday said BECA, which will enable the US to share advanced satellite and topographical data for long-range navigation and missile-targeting with India, is expected to be inked during the two-plus-two dialogue.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh and external affairs minister S Jaishankar will hold the dialogue with their US counterparts Mark Esper and Mike Pompeo during the 2+2 dialogue later this month.
"The agreement will ensure that the armed forces of the two countries start talking to each other on enhancing geospatial cooperation," said an official.
The signing of BECA will be a very significant development as it would allow India to use global geospatial maps of the US for accuracy of stand-off weapons like cruise and ballistic missiles.
According to some reports, the agreement may also function as a precursor to India acquiring armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from the United States' arsenal such as its Predator-B.
Already, the two countries have activated all the three foundational agreements with each other with both using each other's designated military facilities for re-fuelling and replenishment. The communication agreement allows both countries to share military information about threats on land and the Indo-Pacific.
The two sides are also going to hold regular military exercises, with the Indian Army set to hold the Yudh Abhyas and Vajra Prahar with American troops early next year while the Indian Navy is going to take part in the Malabar series exercise in November in the Indian Ocean with the Australian and Japanese navies also set to participate along with the US Navy.
The decision to expedite BECA was taken during US President Donald Trump's visit to India in February 2020. The visit had also seen the inking of two deals worth $3 billion for 24 MH-60 'Romeo' naval helicopters and six Apache attack choppers, which has taken the total value of lucrative Indian defence deals bagged by the US to over $21 billion since 2007.
India and the US have been working very closely in the field of defence and security as India has acquired American equipment worth around $20 billion in the last 15 years including the C-17 Globemasters and the C-130J Super Hercules Special Operations transport aircraft which have become the mainstays of the Indian Air Force's heavy-lift fleet.
India inked the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with the US in 2002, which was followed by the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) in 2016, and then the Communications, Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA) in 2018.
With inputs from agencies
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