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US State Department approves $190m defence deal with India, Boeing to sell two Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures

Feb 07, 2019

The US State Department has approved sale of two Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) Self Protection Suites (SPS) for Boeing aircraft, worth US $190 million, to be used in India.

The US Department of Defense's DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) has been asked by the State Department to issue the required certificate notifying the US Congress about the sale. After US Senate's approval, the deal will enter into the negotiation stage and then the sale will be concluded.

The prime contractor under the deal will be Boeing Company, Oklahoma City, US.

In a statement, the DSCA said, "The Government of India has requested to buy two (2) Self-Protection Suites (SPS) consisting of AN/AAQ 24(V)N Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM), ALQ-211(V)8 Advanced Integrated Defensive Electronic Warfare Suite (AIDEWS), and AN/ALE-47 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (CMDS) to protect two (2) Boeing-777 Head-of-State aircraft."

While approving the deal, Pentagon's DSCA said that the "proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship" and to "improve the security of a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region."

The agency added, "The proposed sale will improve India's capability to deter regional threats with the SPS facilitating a more robust capability into areas of increased missile threats."

The sale will include 12 Guardian Laser Transmitter Assemblies (6 installed and 6 spares), 8 LAIRCM System Processor Replacements (2 installed and 6 spares, 23 Missile Warning Sensors (12 installed and 11 spares), 5 Counter-Measures Dispensing System (2 installed and 3 spares).

The dept also assured that the sale will not "alter the basic military balance in the region".

US is the second-largest arms supplier to India. Washington has already recognised India as a "Major Defense Partner", a status that which commits the US to facilitate technology sharing with India.

Pentagon's Missile defense review (MDR) 2019 had said the US has been discussing "potential missile defense cooperation" with India.

In 2018, US granted India Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1). India is the only south asian country to get STA1 and 3rd Asian country after Japan and South Korea. The status eases defence procurement from the US.

Last year during the 2+2 dialogue, India and US signed the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) which will help New Delhi get access to advanced US defense systems and enable it to utilize its existing US-origin platforms.

The deal comes despite fears that after the India-Russia deal for S400 in October 2018, US might go slow on any defence engagement with New Delhi.

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