In a major development, India has inched closer on an agreement with US which will enable sharing geospatial intelligence and information on maps and satellite images for defence.
As per the report, the agreement is expected to be announced next week during Pompeo and Esper’s scheduled visit to New Delhi for the India-US 2+2 dialogue with External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, exactly a week before the US presidential election.
The Indian cabinet on Wednesday (21 October) reportedly approved the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which had been proposed by the Defence Ministry.
The agreement would provide New Delhi with access to a range of topographical, nautical and aeronautical data, and help it narrow the gap with the powerful Chinese military.
It would also allow the United States to provide advanced navigational aids and avionics on U.S.-supplied aircraft to India, the report quotes a defence officer as saying. It will also have applications in times of disaster to organise relief as well as in strategic security.
"It is a foundational agreement, which the U.S. has signed with many of its partners for greater interoperability," the source said.
BECA is one of the four foundational agreements that a country needs to sign to become a major defence partner of the US, the other three being General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA), the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMoA) and Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA).
COMCASA was signed after the first ever India-US 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in 2018.
India signed the GSOMIA in 2002, and the LEMoA, which gives access to both countries to designated military facilities on either side for the purpose of refuelling and replenishment, in 2016 after being made a major defence partner, the BECA, which facilitates the exchange of geospatial data, is yet to be signed.
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