The US Department of Defense (DoD) has announced the inaugural meeting of the Indus-X Senior Advisory Group in partnership with the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD). Indus-X serves as a platform for both governments to exchange innovative ideas aimed at bolstering their defense acceleration ecosystems.

This collaborative platform emerged from the strengthening defense ties between the United States and India, as outlined in the ‘Roadmap for US-Indian Defense Industrial Co-operation’ agreed upon in June of this year. The meeting was co-chaired by Doug Beck, Director of the US Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), and Lindsey Ford, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Southeast Asia, alongside Mr. Anurag Bajpai, Joint Secretary (Defence Industries Promotion) of the Indian MoD.

During the meeting, participants discussed ongoing initiatives aimed at fostering innovation to equip the armed forces of both countries with the capabilities necessary to safeguard a free and open Indo-Pacific region. They also unveiled the topics for the first two joint challenges, with a focus on undersea communication and maritime intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Aligned with the ‘Roadmap for US-Indian Defense Industrial Co-operation,’ these challenges will provide opportunities for startups in both countries to develop technological solutions for shared defense challenges. The most promising technologies will be eligible for financial awards and potential procurement opportunities. The DIU and iDEX (Innovations for Defence Excellence) will open these challenges to startups later this month.

The Senior Advisory Group also welcomed initiatives by non-governmental stakeholders to implement the Indus-X collaboration agenda. For instance, Hacking4Allies and IIT Hyderabad organized a program for 50 Indian startups, helping them commercialize, recruit talent, and expand. Additionally, Pennsylvania State University and IIT Kanpur convened a virtual gathering of US and Indian academics, government officials, and industry representatives to advance discussions on fostering innovation ecosystems in emerging domains such as AI, space, and cyber.

The group acknowledged private investors’ efforts to generate capital for US and Indian defense and dual-use technology startups. They committed to facilitating a greater two-way flow of capital to support innovation and integration between their respective private defense sectors.

In the global defense landscape, there is a growing emphasis on the development and integration of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to create hybrid fleet structures. This shift aims to enhance survivability, increase efficiency, and reduce long-term operational costs. GlobalData forecasts that expenditures in the global UUV market will rise significantly, from $379 million in 2023 to $965 million by 2033, driven by autonomous mine countermeasure capabilities and hybridized fleet initiatives by various nations.

Despite the growth in UUVs, the market for USVs continues to outpace it, with the global USV market projected to reach $3.16 billion in 2033, up from $894 million in 2023. This underscores the significance of investments and innovation in unmanned surface vehicles within the defense sector.