Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony, center, shakes hands with Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera in New Delhi on Jan. 6. (Agence France-Presse)
NEW DELHI — India and Japan are negotiating joint development of an amphibious search-and-rescue aircraft called the US-2. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who is visiting here Jan. 5-8, discussed the matter with Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony, said Indian Ministry of Defence sources.
Analysts here said joint development of the US-2 aircraft in India will sharply boost defense ties between the two countries.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during a visit to Japan last year, set up a joint working group to explore how to cooperate on the US-2. Indian Navy sources, however, said the total number of aircraft needed still must be settled because only then can the Japanese work out the pricing, an MoD source said.
Talks on the US-2 are expected later this year between the two countries, the MoD source added.
An Indian Ministry of Defence release said the two defense ministers decided to carry out high-level visits on an annual basis. The Indian defense minister will visit Japan later this year, and the two countries also will hold the fourth Defence Policy Dialogue (at the level of administrative vice minister/secretary of defense) here this year, the release said.
Analysts have described Indo-Japanese strategic ties as part of an effort to build a partnership to counter the growing influence of China in the region.
The Jan. 6 meeting also covered maritime security, anti-piracy measures, freedom of navigation, and maintaining the security of sea lanes of communication to facilitate unhindered naval trade.
The navies of the two countries held their first joint sea exercise off the Indian coast Dec. 19-22. The Indian Navy fielded the indigenously built stealth frigate INS Satpura, the guided missile destroyer INS Ranvijay and the missile corvette INS Kuthar. The Japanese deployed two guided missile destroyers, the JS Ariake and JS Setogiri.