US and India Sign Space Situational Awareness Arrangement

US and India Sign Space Situational Awareness Arrangement
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin delivers remarks at the fourth U.S.-India 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue at the State Department in Washington on April 11, 2022. (Michael McCoy/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Isabel van Brugen

The United States and India on Monday signed a bilateral space situational awareness arrangement, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin announced.

The two countries signed the agreement during a U.S.–India 2+2 ministerial that was held by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Austin on Monday with their Indian counterparts, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar.

"I'm pleased to announce that just a few moments ago, we signed a bilateral space situational awareness arrangement, and this will support greater information sharing and cooperation in space,” Austin told a press briefing shortly after the meeting wrapped up.

Austin said the United States is “committed” to launching new defense space exchanges later this year between the national Space Command and India’s Defense Space Agency.

“We're also deepening our cooperation in cyberspace, including through training and exercises later this year. And we're expanding our information sharing partnership across all warfighting domains,” Austin said.

The remarks came not long after President Joe Biden met with his counterpart, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, virtually.

The U.S.–India 2+2 ministerial covered the topics of counterterrorism; operationalizing the Major Defense Partnership; new domains of cooperation in space and cyber and emerging technologies; and multilateral cooperation.

Broad talks between the world's two largest democracies took place as the United States seeks more help from India in condemning and applying economic pressure on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation.”

"Recently, the news of the killings of innocent civilians in the city of Bucha was very worrying," Modi said during a brief portion of his meeting with Biden open to reporters. "We immediately condemned it and have asked for an independent probe.”

Modi also said he had suggested in recent conversations with Russia that President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hold direct talks.

Blinken said Monday that the signing of the Space Situational Awareness Agreement “is a demonstration of our growing technology partnership which we believe has virtually limitless potential for exploration, for discovery, for achievement, to the benefit of people in both of our countries and indeed around the world.”

“We look very much forward to continuing to build a stronger future for both of our countries, both of our peoples through our defense and security cooperation, through our deeply connected economies, through our shared values and common bonds, and to do so for many, many decades to come,” he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.