U.S. and India are taking their defense cooperation to space with leaders from the two largest democracies in the world launching new defense space exchanges this year.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken hosted their Indian counterparts, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of External Affairs S. Jaishankar for the fourth two-plus-two Ministerial Dialogue between the two countries.
Earlier in the day, President Joe Biden held a teleconference meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that set the stage for the two-plus-two.
Austin noted that in the nearly 20 years of the bilateral defense partnership that the two nations have made tremendous progress. "Today's meeting shows that we're working together to build one of the most consequential partnerships of our time," he said. "We've made important commitments today that will drive technological innovation and cooperation in emerging defense domains, including space and cyberspace."
Austin announced that the U.S. and India will launch new defense space exchanges this year between U.S. Space Command and India's Defense Space Agency. "And I'm pleased to announce that just a few moments ago, we signed a bilateral space situational awareness arrangement," he said. "This will support greater information sharing and cooperation in space."
The two defense establishments are also deepening cooperation in cyberspace, including through training and exercises later this year. India and the United States are also expanding information sharing partnership across all warfighting domains, he said.
Ely Ratner, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs tweeted on Monday, “Productive U.S. - India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue today where we finalized major defense initiatives including the signing of a new Space Situational Awareness (SSA) arrangement forging the way to more advanced cooperation.”
In 2019, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) set up its own SSA and management directorate at its headquarters in Bengaluru.
The U.S.-India defense trade and technology cooperation continues to grow, the secretary said. "We recently concluded, an agreement to work together on air-launched unmanned aerial vehicles through our defense technology and trade initiative," he said. "And today, we agreed to launch new supply chain cooperation measures that will let us more swiftly support each other's priority defense requirements."