India has signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) with the United States during the inaugural 2+2 dialogue held in New Delhi today, Press Trust of India has said in a report.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman participated in the dialogue and held talks with US Secretary of State Michael R Pompeo and Defence Secretary James Mattis.
The agreement provides India access to critical communication networks to enable better interoperability between the Indian and US militaries. It will facilitate the installation of high-end communication equipment in defence systems that India is buying from the US.
Once this equipment replaces commercially available and less secure ones put on platforms that the US sells to India, the militaries of the two countries will be able to share data, including intelligence, in real time.
American platforms like C-130Js and the P8I maritime surveillance aircraft, sold to India, came with the commercially available and less secure equipment. However, the platforms that India will now buy from the US will come loaded with high-tech and secure communication equipment.
COMCASA is one of three foundational agreement that the US signs with other countries for high technology cooperation in the defence sector. The other two are Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA). India signed LEMOA with the US in 2016 after years of negotiation. The two countries are yet to begin talks for the signing of the third agreement – BECA.
India’s position on the agreement started changing when it realised the benefits of US intelligence. Inputs provided by the US on Chinese troop deployment had helped New Delhi formulate its strategy during Doklam stand-off.
“The Dokalam face off was the turning point for the Indian position on the Comcasa when it realised the benefit of US intelligence on Chinese troop deployments in calibrating its approach. This sort of intelligence was not available with India,” the Economic Times had reported on Tuesday.
According to the daily’s report, the US has agreed to address India’s concerns related to this agreement. This includes the assurance that the equipment provided to India under this agreement will remain operational as long as the agreement stands. The US has also assured New Delhi that it will not share any Indian data with other entities without prior approval, the daily’s report says.
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