US to Sign Defense Pact With India to Share Satellite Data

Deal comes as tensions are high between India and China

According to India’s defense ministry, Washington and New Delhi are set to sign a military pact that will give India access to satellite data to increase the accuracy of its missiles and drones.

News of the potential pact comes while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are in India. Esper met with his Indian counterpart on Monday and discussed the treaty, known as the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA).

“The two ministers expressed satisfaction that agreement of BECA will be signed during the visit,” India’s defense ministry said in a statement. The agreement is expected to be signed on Tuesday following formal discussions.

The deal is expected to be formally announced on Tuesday following formal talks between the officials. Tensions between India and China are high over a border dispute in the western Himalayans. The dispute turned deadly back in June, and India reported 20 of its soldiers killed in a skirmish with Chinese troops.

The US has been seeking the cooperation of Asian countries to counter Beijing in the region. India, the US, Japan, and Australia make up the informal alliance known as the Quad. Some US officials hope this group can be the foundation for a NATO-style alliance in East Asia, although the Asian partners are a little more hesitant to take such a hostile posture against China.

Australia will join the other Quad countries in the annual Malabar naval exercises off of India’s coast next month for the first time since 2007. In previous years, India has been hesitant to include Australia, fearing the show of force by the Quad countries would antagonize Beijing.

Earlier this month, Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun was in India to prepare for Pompeo’s visit. Biegun said the US and India had been “too cautious” about China’s reaction to developing the Quad into a stronger alliance.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the assistant news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.