Skip to comments.Arms race fear as US plans India missile shield
Posted on 02/28/2008 4:10:00 AM PST by CarrotAndStick
The United States and India are in talks to join forces on a missile defence system - despite fears it could trigger an arms race with China.
Mr Gates: talks on a missile shield are at an early stage
The proposal, still at an early stage, is part of an evolving strategic partnership between the world's two largest democracies.
But the fear in Beijing is that the US is trying to "encircle" China by using India and allies such as Japan and Australia as proxies, and thereby stifle its strategic rise.
The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, said in New Delhi: "We're beginning to talk about conducting a joint analysis on what India's needs would be in the realm of missile defence, and where co-operation might help advance that."
Mr Gates denied that the proposal was part of a tactic to "hedge" against the rise of China. "I don't see our military relationship in this region in the context of any other country, including China," he said.
However, officials travelling with him suggested it was no coincidence that Mr Gates's tour had encompassed three democracies - India, Australia and Indonesia - with which the US had a "fundamental commonality of interests".
Mr Gates's two-day Delhi visit is geared towards pushing sales for American defence contractors, as well as to strengthen bilateral strategic ties. Nevertheless, the suggestion of extending the US missile defence shield at a time when China and India have a number of unresolved border disputes, came as a surprise.
Mr Gates insisted talks on the joint missile shield were at an early stage. "We're not looking for quick results or big leaps forward but rather a steady expansion of this relationship that leaves everybody comfortable and one that works in terms of Indian domestic politics and also for us," he said.
Defence analysts, however, said such a collaboration would complicate relations with China as well as India's other nuclear-armed neighbours, Pakistan and Russia. Until now, Russia has been India's biggest supplier of military hardware.
"Such an arrangement could trigger a regional arms race, with the potential to turn the sub-continent into a virtual flashpoint," a senior Indian military officer said.
India is tentative about entering a joint missile defence shield with Washington, as it is pursuing a similar domestic programme of its own. But closer strategic ties with the US and the gradual acquisition of American military equipment has prompted Washington to push the relationship further.
Analysts said offering closer defence ties shows the US is keen to build India up as a "counterweight" to China's burgeoning military might - even though Delhi itself has expressed reservations about the "encirclement" of China.
In another move likely to heighten tensions with Russia, America yesterday tied up the military elements of a deal to build its controversial missile defence shield in Europe.
The agreement came in Washington as President George W Bush met Mirek Topolanek, the Czech prime minister. The Czech Republic is now likely to host a radar base that will scan the skies for missiles fired by "rogue states", notably Iran.
Trigger an arms race? That's funny. China is pouring money into their military as it is.
Joint study to look at Indo-US cooperation in missile defence systems: Robert Gates
27 February 2008
New Delhi: India and the United States will conduct a joint study of needs of an Indian missile defence system and look at the likely level of cooperation that the US could extend to the programme, according to US defence secretary, Robert Gates. The secretary stressed that talks along these lines were only in their early stages.
"We're just beginning to talk about perhaps conducting a joint analysis about what India's needs would be in the realm of missile defence and where cooperation between us might help advance that," Gates told reporters.
Gates' announcement comes in the wake of persistent reports in the media that US aerospace majors, such as Lockheed Martin with its Patriot system, were keen to involve themselves with India's homespun ballistic missile defence (BMD) programme, which has made impressive progress over the last year or so.
Other aerospace majors, apart from Lockheed, who could become partners in such a programme include Boeing Co, Raytheon Co and Northrop Grumman Corp, all of whom have developed advanced systems in the air, sea and space based segments of a BMD system.
In his interaction with the media, Gates sought to play down the commercial aspect of a budding military interaction with India saying that the US was interested in building a long-term relationship with the country.
He also noted that such a relationship was independent of the fate of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, which is facing domestic opposition in India and a degree of skepticism in the US.
"We're not looking for quick results or big leaps forward," Gates told reporters.
"But rather a steady expansion of this relationship in a way that leaves everybody comfortable that we're not moving too fast and that works in terms of Indian domestic politics and also works for us."
Meanwhile he expressed his pleasure at the recent sanction of a billion-dollar contract to Lockheed for the supply of six C-130J transport aircraft.
"I expressed our pleasure obviously with the purchase by India of the six C-130Js. There are some other deals in the works," Gates said. He did not reveal details.
Gates obviously did not miss out on the chance of making a pitch for the 126-medium range multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender for the Indian Air Force. "We asked no special treatment. We simply are pleased to have a place at the table and we believe that in a fair competition we have a very good case to make," he said.
"I indicated that we obviously are interested and believe that we are very competitive in the selection of the new fighter," he said.
Apart from American contenders, Lockheed and Boeing, Russia's MiG-35, France's Dassault Rafale, Sweden's Saab KAS-39 Gripen and the Eurofighter Typhoon, made by a consortium of British, German, Italian and Spanish companies are competing for the MMRCA tender.
On the Indo-US nuclear deal, Gates did strike a warning note. Though there was no deadline on India's acceptance of the deal, Gates said that time could be running out.
"The clock is ticking in terms of how much time is available to get all the different aspects of this agreement implemented," Gates said.
This is a good idea, IMHO, that demands further study and action. We should be doing everything we an to lessen the value of the strategic missile forces of China and Pakistan (and, eventually, Iran). India is in the crosshairs of all these nations, and can be a powerful and motivated ally.
In Other Words: You're gonna do much better dealing with President Bush than you would dealing with President Obama.
Yes, more like *Countering an arms race*.
Great way to get the worlds largest democracy closer ties to the U.S.
Also a fantastic way to tweak the chi-coms sorry touches.
Wait . . . what's that you say? The Chinese have been aggressively ramping up their military budget since 1989? Then nevermind.
... gotta protect all those tech support businesses.
Also a great way to outsource our missile shield technology.
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