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US Approves Sale of UAV Technology to India

The United States has cleared the sale of the state-of-the-art Guardian 22 unmanned Guardian drones to India. The deal to sell UAV drones to India is estimated to be worth $2 to $3 billion. Though the deal has been approved by the State Department, an official announcement regarding the deal is yet to be announced.

Significance

The transfer of the state-of-the-art UAV technology to India will be the first significant progress after India’s entry into the exclusive Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and after the US has designated India as a major defence partner. India became the 35th full member of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) in June 2016.

The transfer of Guardian UAV technology is aimed at furthering mutual security interests to protect the Indian Ocean.

The deal would also pave the way for the transfer of other key technology sales from the US to India. The Guardian unmanned aircraft has been classified as Category 1 aircraft with cutting edge technologies.

Background

Last year, the Indian Navy had requested for this intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform. The US has designated India as a “major defence partner” under the Obama Administration. The US considers India as a key player to counter the Chinese threat. However, the Guardian UAV proposal was kept in abeyance under Obama administration.

UAVs operate without a human pilot. UAVs are commonly used in both the military and police forces in situations where the risk of sending a human piloted aircraft is unacceptable, or the situation makes using a manned aircraft impractical.

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Lockheed and Tata sign Pact to make F-16 Planes in India 

 

Lockheed Martin and India’s Tata Advanced Systems have signed a pact to produce F-16 fighter planes in India. The two companies have announced their agreement at the Paris Airshow.

Lockheed Martin’s move to forge a joint venture with Tata is aimed at winning billions of dollars worth order from the Indian military.

Lockheed Martin is one of the largest aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technologies  companies having worldwide interests. It is headquartered in Maryland. The company was formed after the merger of Lockheed Corporation and Martin Marietta in 1995.

Background

India’s airforce is in requirement of hundreds of aircraft inorder ro replace its soviet-era aircrafts. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Make-in-India initiative require the foreign suppliers to forge partnership with a local partner to make planes and build a domestic industrial base in India. This is aimed at cutting outright imports.

But Make-in-India initiative appears to be in conflict with President Donald Trump’s America First campaign under which Trump wants the companies to invest in the United States and create jobs instead of establishing factories abroad. To allay these concerns, both the companies have said that moving the production base to India would still retain jobs in the United States.

Establishing a production base in India for the manufacture of F-16 will create new manufacturing jobs in India and is expected to position Indian industry at the centre of the most extensive fighter aircraft supply ecosystem in the world,

Sweden’s Saab is the other contender to supply aircraft to the Indian Air Force. The company has offered to make its Gripen fighter in India. However, it is yet to announce a local partner In India. Gripen fighters are pitched as a modern alternative to the F-16s.

US and India have built a close defence relationship in recent years. US along with Russia and Israel has emerged as a top three arms supplier to India. F-16s are flown by air forces by 26 countries around the world. In addition, Lockheed Martin is offering model Block 70 which is the most modern of all F-16s.

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Paris Climate Deal: US to Withdraw

President Donald Trump has announced that the United States is set to withdraw from the historic 2015 Paris Accord as the accord was hurting his country and economy very badly. However, he has said that he is open for a “new transaction” on terms that are fair to the US.

With the decision to pull out, the United States will join the short list of countries including Syria and Nicaragua that are not a part of the Paris Accord which has been signed by 195 countries in 2015. The Paris Agreement on Climate Change came into effect in November last year.

Reasons

Donald Trump has held that the deal was not tough enough on India and China.  

According to Trump, Paris Accord was unfair to the United States. He has held that implementation of Paris Accord would adversely impact the paper, cement, iron and steel, coal, and natural gas sectors of the American economy. It would also inflict a loss of $3 trillion in GDP, loss of 6.5 million industrial jobs and $7,000 less in annual income for American households.

Implications

Being the world’s second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, the exit of United States from the accord have raised questions about the fate of the accord. There are also fears that some more reluctant countries may also follow the steps of US in quitting the climate deal.

As per the various estimates provided by entities like Climate Interactive and Climate Action Tracker, if US doesn’t reach its Paris Accord goal, then an additional 0.1 to 0.3 degrees Celsius will be added to global warming by 2100.

With the exit of the US, China and EU are set to announce an alliance to take on a leadership role determined to protect the Paris Accord.

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