The 3rd two plus two ministerial meeting next week will see both India and the United States consolidating military-to-military relationship between the two democracies to move towards institutionalised intelligence-sharing agreement and go beyond tri-services exercises into unmanned, space and underwater platform domains, people familiar with the matter said.
On October 26-27, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defence Secretary Mark Esper in national capital Delhi for the third round of the top strategic dialogue agreed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump back in 2017. The two sides are expected to sign off on a geo-spatial military foundational agreement called BECA (Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement) that is a precursor to India acquiring armed drones such as the MQ-9B from the US that use spatial data for pinpointed strikes.
The two sides are expected to build on past gains at the meeting being held weeks before the US Presidential elections on November 3, comfortable in the knowledge that there is bi-partisan consensus within the US on deepening India-US strategic relationship.
There is a strong possibility that the two sides could work out a pact that allows institutionalised relationship between the Defence Intelligence Agencies of the two countries. India and the US already share real-time intelligence through the communication agreement called COMCASA.
But the new pact would allow the two allies to share vital tri-services intelligence on developments in all defence matters ranging from the South China Sea to Ladakh. This proposal has been hanging fire for quite some years without any results.