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The realm of international defence collaboration is witnessing a new dawn as the United States expresses keen interest in partnering with India for the development of future weapons programs. This burgeoning partnership, poised to enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries, reflects a growing synergy in their strategic and defence objectives.

The most recent manifestation of this collaborative endeavour is the co-development of Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). These UAVs, designed for surveillance missions and capable of air recovery after fulfilling their mission objectives, represent a successful initial step towards bolstering joint defence initiatives.

Among the avenues being explored, one of the notable discussions is centred around the Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program of the US Army. The FLRAA program aims to replace thousands of Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, equipping the US Army with cutting-edge capabilities. Pentagon officials have engaged with their Indian Army counterparts to explore the possibility of India’s participation as a strategic or co-development partner in this significant endeavour.

In a strategic alignment that extends beyond land forces, the Indian Air Force (IAF) has shown keen interest in a program pursued by the US Air Force. This program involves the conversion of transport aircraft such as the C-130J Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III into part-time missile trucks. The aircraft would be equipped with “smart pallets” carrying long-range cruise missiles and other munitions. These smart pallets would offer precise navigation and targeting data to the onboard missiles, facilitating efficient deployment. Given that the IAF operates both the C-130J Super Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III in its fleet, its engagement in this program showcases a shared interest in innovative defence capabilities.

Beyond specific programs, the growing rapport between the two nations has also led to discussions around the possibility of India becoming a partner in America’s newest nuclear stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider. This move is in line with the US’s endeavours to offer technologically advanced defence solutions to close allies such as India, Japan, and Australia. With an eye on potential threats in the region, including reports of China working on its nuclear stealth bomber, India and the US are exploring avenues to strengthen their defence mechanisms and security cooperation.

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