Capitalizing on their existing military ties, India, Israel, and the US can think about a trilateral pact on defense technology to counter China, a paper published by a Mumbai-based think tank suggests.
Technology is a key factor in contemporary international relations as it can play an important role in political, economic, and security ties. United by a common rival — China — the three nations can use this strategy to cement their ties on defense technology.
“China’s confrontationist attitude against its neighbors and adversaries — as seen in the ongoing border standoff with India in Ladakh — coupled with its determined efforts to take the lead in emerging technologies, make it imperative for India, the US and other like-minded countries to bolster their existing research and development activities in such technologies.
“Though technological advancements are taking place at breakneck speed, it is clear that a solo national effort in developing and adopting critical technologies won’t go far,” writes Sameer Patil, a fellow at Gateway House, Mumbai.
India and the US need to expand their effort and enlist another close partner, Israel, to advance their technological goals, Patil opines.
In a paper titled ‘Inserting India into US-Israel Defence Technology Cooperation’, Patil argues that such a collaboration will increase the capabilities of the three militaries altogether while increasing interoperability and export opportunities.
However, India’s ties with Russia and Iran could be a major hurdle in establishing this trilateral pact. This runs afoul with US and Israeli defense cooperation with China.
Patil says that the technology is a factor shaping UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s D-10 alliance as an alternative supply chain of 5G and other emerging technologies or a similar proposal by two former US State Department Officials — Jared Cohen and Richard Fontaine — to bring together the ‘T-12’ group of techno-democracies.
Israel had always been a principal US ally in the Middle East and has been receiving military and technological support, ensuring its dominance in the region. This enables the two countries to have extensive cooperation in the fields of defense and agriculture.
Leading defense firm Israel Aerospace Industries also has deep cooperation with American giants like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. “Silicon Valley majors such as IBM, Intel, and Google have tapped into Tel Aviv’s start-up ecosystem for years,” the paper says.
“As a Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) of the US, Israel gets specific military benefits like advanced defense technologies on a priority basis and intelligence-sharing. The high degree of mutual trust between the two countries is also evident with Israel being the only country to receive unfettered access to American military technology and equipment such as the F-35 fighter jet,” it adds.
Similarly, India is already the largest importer of the Israeli weapon systems and according to Patil, the coming together of these three nations would not only “reinforce its access to the Indian market, but also offer opportunities for exports to emerging markets in Asia and Africa — India’s traditional defense export destinations”.
The Indian-American partnership was also highlighted in the paper, as both countries have signed the five foundational pacts and New Delhi was christened as a unique status of ‘Major Defense Partner’ in 2016.
Despite such possibilities, India has one drawback. The US and Israel have reached a considerably higher level of technological advancement than India, which is still discussing the pros and cons of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.