Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) | UPSC

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Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) | UPSC

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) | UPSC

      HEADLINES:

High-tech transfers

      WHY IN NEWS:

How will the signing of BECA deepen military ties between India and the U.S.?

MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Defence
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Defence

      LEARNING: 

For PRELIMS go through all the agreements in brief with the timeline . Ground based application of these technologies is important for Prelims .

For MAINS keep an eye on the bipolar world and its consequences mentioned in way forward . Let us dive in !

      ISSUE: 

On October 27, India and the U.S. signed the BECA during the third 2+2 dialogue of defence and foreign ministers of the two countries.

BASIC EXCHANGE AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT (BECA)

  • This is the fourth and the last of the foundational agreements that both countries have concluded.
  • Starting with GSOMIA (General Security of Military Information Agreement) in 2002.
  • LEMOA (Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement) in 2016
  • COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) in 2018 ,and now BECA.

WHAT ARE FOUNDATIONAL AGREEMENTS?

  • The United States enters into what are called ‘foundational or enabling agreements’ with its defence partners.
  • These agreements govern the nature and scope of U.S. defence partnerships.

Partners enhance the capabilities of the U.S. military in distant places through sharing information, platforms and logistics.

  • The competitive advantage of the U.S. military is maintained primarily by the advanced technologies that the country develops continuously.
  • The U.S. sells military equipment to other countries with strict control over their deployment and use.

EXAMPLE
Consider the B777-300ER aircraft that India bought from Boeing recently for the use of VVIPs.

  • The sale of advanced communication and security systems on the aircraft — which are not commercially available — is made seamless by foundational agreements.
  • The U.S. is also eager to advance ‘interoperability’ with defence forces of the countries that are its defence partners.
  • Interoperability involves real-time coordination of forces.
  • The U.S. has signed these foundational agreements with at least 100 countries, which mostly follow a standard text.

Country-specific changes were made in India’s case in all four foundational agreements.

WHAT DO THESE AGREEMENTS DO?

  • The General Security of Military Information Agreement or GSOMIA, and its extension, the Information Security Annex (ISA) were signed in 2019.
  • It allows military technology cooperation for the sharing of classified information between governments and companies in both countries.

The LEMOA enables logistics support, say refuelling of planes or ships, supply of spare parts or maintenance to each other. 

EXAMPLE
U.S. Navy’s P8 aircraft landed in Port Blair last month for refuelling, under LEMOA. 

  • Even in the absence of this agreement, such cooperation can and has taken place between India and the U.S.,but the agreement makes it seamless, and the accounting easier.
  • The COMCASA allows Indian forces to procure advanced, secure communication equipment from the U.S.
  • Such equipment was earlier denied for U.S. origin platforms such as C-17, C-130, and commercial systems were used in their place.
  • Only after COMCASA was signed were the encrypted systems provided to India.
  • The BECA enables exchange of geospatial information.

Akin to a GPS that enables navigation, such exchange of geospatial information enhances the accuracy of a missile or the utility of a drone.

Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) | UPSC

WHAT IS THE STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF THESE AGREEMENTS?

The U.S. has relaxed restrictions on technology trade in India’s favour considerably, and India is designated a ‘Major Defence Partner’. 

  • Foundational agreements deepen defence cooperation, in trade and operation.
  • India and the U.S. are also part of a broader shared vision for the Indo-Pacific region, where both countries, along with Japan and Australia, are increasing their military cooperation.
  • U.S.-built platforms used by partner countries can talk to one another and share operational information.

CONCERNS

  • Critics worry that tying itself too closely with the U.S. may limit India’s choices.

The evolution of technology makes it inevitable that all military platforms will be integrated and networked in the future.
 

  • The U.S. is very particular about the integrity of its networks, and pressure could mount on India to remain firmly in its camp.
  • The U.S. is particularly irked by India’s continuing defence cooperation with Russia.
  • India will be taking the delivery of Russian S-400 missile defence system next year, ignoring American objections.

The U.S. could respond with sanctions.

  • At any rate, it will not be possible to integrate Russian and American platforms, and this could throw up new challenges of military planning for India.
  • India could ramp up its defence cooperation with the U.S. without ending up as its ally.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 

IMPLICATIONS FOR THE REGION

  • On the military side, access to classified information and satellite imageries from the US satellites would help India improve its situational awareness.

India could plan a military operations that may include the possibility of aerial surgical strikes inside mainland Pakistan. 

NATIVE CAPABLITIES

  • India has recently tested Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HTDV) which would be able to carry hypersonic cruise missiles with speeds more than Mach 7.
  • Hypersonic weapons due to their short flight time could also be useful against mobile launchers such as the ‘Nasr’ missile system that with Pakistan .

WAY AHEAD

  • The US wants India to move away from Russian equipment and platforms, as it feels this may expose its technology and information to Moscow.

So far, India is going ahead with the purchase of the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia, and this has been a sticking point for American interlocutors. 
 

  • India is wary of Pakistan’s deep-rooted ties with the Pentagon, and Washington’s dependence on Rawalpindi for access to Afghanistan as well as its exit strategy.
  • The clear and present danger from China, New Delhi’s strategic embrace of Washington is the obvious outcome.

The Indian defence establishment has already used at least five American platforms at the LAC—

  • C-17 Globemaster III for military transport,
  • Boeing’s Chinook CH-47 as heavy-lift helicopters
  • Boeing’s Apache as tank-killers
  • P-8I Poseidon for overland reconnaissance
  • Lockheed Martin’s C-130J for airlifting troops.
SUGGESTED READING : INDIA-US DEFENCE PARTNERSHIP 2020 
     SOURCES:  THE IE | Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) | UPSC

 

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