If America doesn’t maintain aid to India, China is ready to step in.
Last June, President Obama designated India a “major defense partner,” committing the United States to increased cooperation in defense trade and technological development. As part of this commitment, he granted India “license-free access to a wide range of dual-use technologies.”
The following month, India issued a letter of request regarding the price and availability of the Guardian—the unarmed variant of the MQ-9 aerial drone. Seven months later, that prospective sale remains in limbo.
Designed to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in a maritime environment, the Guardian would greatly enhance India’s efforts to monitor its coasts, conduct search-and-rescue operations, and secure its island territories and naval assets in the Indian Ocean.
China’s expansive territorial claims and island building in the South China Sea are well known, but China has also expanded its area of operations by establishing a navy base in the East African nation of Djibouti. From there, China can gain easy access to the Indian Ocean. The sale of the Guardian would not only benefit India, but could assist the United States in monitoring areas of shared interest and concern.