US, India working to co-produce extended-range artillery and infantry vehicles to counter China: Senior Pentagon official

Washington: The US is working with India on proposals to co-produce extended-range artillery and infantry vehicles to meet its operational requirements along its border with China and address its “coercion and harassment”, a top Pentagon official said on Thursday.

The Indian and Chinese troops are locked in an over-three-year confrontation in certain friction points in eastern Ladakh.

This is part of the unprecedented steps being undertaken by the Biden administration to enable its allies and partners to contribute to deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region, said Ely Ratner, Assistant Secretary of Defence for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs, in prepared opening remarks for his Congressional hearing on China.

The hearing is taking place at a time when relations between the US and China have been hit badly amid disputes over human rights, access to technology, China’s territorial claims in the South China and East China seas and threats against self-governing Taiwan.

Pentagon, he said, is supporting Japan’s efforts to acquire counter-strike capabilities, working with Australia as it develops an indigenous capacity to manufacture guided weapons and explosive ordnance, implementing a new inaugural technology initiative with India focused on co-development and co-production of major defence platforms and working with Southeast Asian countries to acquire asymmetric capabilities suited to combatting China’s coercion and harassment, and more.

“Most recently with India, we concretised our commitment to co-produce jet engines and strengthen cutting-edge technology and defence industrial cooperation during Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi’s state visit,” Ratner said.

India has made it very clear to China that until there is peace and tranquillity in border areas, the relationship between the two countries cannot progress.