U.S.-India Forge Ahead With Extended-Range Artillery Production Amidst Escalating Border Tensions With China
Top Pentagon Official Announcement
In an unprecedented move, the U.S. is working closely with India on proposals to co-produce extended-range artillery and infantry vehicles, addressing concerns of "coercion and harassment" along India's border with China, a top Pentagon official confirmed Thursday.
The move comes as Indian and Chinese troops are locked in a confrontation spanning more than three years at key friction points in eastern Ladakh. The conflict remains unresolved despite extensive diplomatic and military negotiations that have resulted in some areas of disengagement.
Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, outlined these developments during his Congressional hearing on China. The hearing occurred amidst a strained relationship between the US and China, as disputes over human rights, access to technology, and territorial claims in the South and East China Seas have triggered significant friction. An added dimension of tension stems from China's threats against Taiwan, a self-governing democratic entity.
"The Pentagon is supporting our allies and partners in their contribution to deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region," Ratner stated in his opening remarks. The initiatives include Japan's acquisition of counter-strike capabilities, Australia's indigenous development of guided weapons and explosive ordnance, a new inaugural technology initiative with India for co-development and co-production of major defense platforms, and cooperation with Southeast Asian countries to acquire asymmetric capabilities aimed at countering China's coercion and harassment.
Ratner highlighted recent developments during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's state visit, where the US and India solidified their commitment to co-produce jet engines and enhance their collaboration on cutting-edge technology and defense industrial cooperation.
"We are also working with Indian counterparts on proposals to co-produce extended-range artillery and infantry vehicles to address India's operational requirements along its border with the People's Republic of China," Ratner informed the House Select Committee on China.
The tensions between India and China have considerably intensified following a fierce clash in Galwan Valley in June 2020, marking the most severe military conflict between the two sides in decades. In the wake of this clash, India conveyed a clear message to China: peace and tranquility in the border areas are prerequisites for a progressive bilateral relationship.
This innovative partnership between the US and India emerges as a significant step forward in fostering international security alliances. It underlines a shared understanding of the need to counterbalance China's assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.