With an increase in tensions between India and China along the disputed border in the Himalayas, the US is helping India keep an eye on China’s military. In October, the US and India signed a new defense pact that allows the US to share more satellite data with New Delhi.
At an event in November, the head of US Pacific Air Forces spoke of the increased military cooperation. “From the real-world standpoint, we’ve gotten closer this year with India, especially on the intelligence sharing, particularly related to the situation that’s occurring on their northeast border with China,” Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach said, according to Business Insider.
“We’ve been doing quite a bit of intelligence sharing, as much as we can, with them to help out our great friend, India,” he added. Over the summer, a clash broke out between Chinese and Indian troops along the border, the first deadly incident between the two militaries in decades.
The deal signed in October, known as the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), allows gives India access to topographical, nautical, and aeronautical data. The intelligence could also be used for Indian missile strikes.
When BECA was first inked, India’s Economic Times said the deal will give Indian missiles a “killer edge.”
With the Trump administration’s focus on China, building stronger security partnerships in the region has become a priority. The incoming Biden administration is expected to continue building alliances to counter Beijing, and even NATO is looking to get in on the action. NATO recently released a report that recommended the alliance form a partnership with India to counter Beijing.
India, the US, Japan, and Australia form the informal alliance known as the Quad. In November, the four countries participated in military drills together for the first time in over a decade. The Indian-led Malabar exercises were held off India’s coast.
In previous years, India has been hesitant to allow Australia to participate in the exercises for fear of sending the wrong message to Beijing. But with tensions high over the disputed border and more military support from the US, India decided to allow all of the Quad countries to participate in a show of force aimed at China.