US | India Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI)
Deepening bilateral defense cooperation is a strategic imperative for the United States and India, but for many years progress in this area was impeded by unique national bureaucratic structures, acquisition models, and budget processes. In 2012, the Department of Defense created a mechanism for overcoming or reducing these impediments. This effort has evolved into the India-U.S. Defense Technology and Trade Initiative or DTTI.
DTTI is intended to focus senior U.S. and Indian leadership on real opportunities and challenges associated with strengthening our defense partnership. While DTTI is not a treaty or law, it elevates our shared commitment to defense trade, helps eliminate bureaucratic obstacles, accelerates timelines, promotes collaborative technology exchange, strengthens cooperative research, and enables co-production/co-development of defense systems for sustainment and modernization of our military forces.
Major Defense Partner
On June 7, 2016, President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the recognition of India as a Major Defense Partner (MDP) of the U.S. This status has subsequently been codified in law. The designation of India as a major defense partner, which is unique to India, institutionalizes the progress made to facilitate defense trade and technology sharing between the United States and India and “elevates defense trade and technology cooperation between the United States and India to a level commensurate with the closest allies and partners of the United States.”
Leadership and Structure
The value placed in the DTTI is reflected in the seniority of its leadership. For the U.S., the overall initiative is led by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. For India, the DTTI is led by the Secretary (Defence Production). Under the DTTI Terms of Reference, the two leads will meet as the DTTI Group every six months alternating location between the U.S. and India.
The day-to-day DTTI effort is overseen by the DTTI Interagency Task Force (DIATF) co-chaired by the Executive Director, International Cooperation, OUSD(A&S) and the Deputy Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff (Policy, Planning and Force Development), Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Four Service-led Joint Working Groups (JWGs) execute projects and activities under DTTI: Land Systems (LS), Naval Systems (NS), Air Systems (AS), and Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (ACTC).
In December 2019, the DTTI co-chairs established the DTTI Industry Collaboration Forum (DICF), which is co-chaired by the Principal Deputy, Industrial Policy, OUSD(A&S) and the Joint Secretary (Department of Defence Production). The DICF is a standing mechanism for developing and sustaining a U.S.-Indian industry dialogue on defense technological and industrial cooperation.
To provide guidance for U.S. and Indian industry in how to engage with the DTTI, the DTTI Initial Guidance for Industry was released in July 2020 and can be downloaded here.