IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis

Explained: What’s in India-US defence deals

21st October, 2020 International Relations

Context: At 2+2 meeting next week, the two countries will look to push intelligence sharing pact BECA.

What is BECA?

  • The Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement largely pertains to geospatial intelligence, and sharing information on maps and satellite images for defence.
  • Signing BECA will allow India to use the US’s advanced geospatial intelligence and enhance the accuracy of automated systems and weapons like missiles and armed drones.
  • It will give access to topographical and aeronautical data and products that will aid navigation and targeting.
  • BECA will provide Indian military systems with a high-quality GPS to navigate and missiles with real-time intelligence to precisely target the adversary.

What are the other two agreements about?


  • The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement was signed between India and the US in August 2016.
  • It allowed the military of each country to replenish from the other’s bases: access supplies, spare parts and services from the other country’s land facilities, air bases, and ports, which can then be reimbursed.
  • This is extremely useful for Navy-to-Navy cooperation, since the US and India are cooperating closely in the Indo-Pacific.
  • In military terms, one’s Naval ships are strategic assets and use of another country’s base would expose one’s military asset to the host.
  • If signing LEMOA needed trust, its application enhances the trust. It took almost a decade to negotiate LEMOA.
  • This has bridged the trust deficit and paved the way for the remaining “foundational pacts”.


  • The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement was signed in September 2018.
  • It allows the US to provide India with its encrypted communications equipment and systems so that Indian and US military commanders, aircraft and ships can communicate through secure networks in peace and war.
  • It provide safe and real-time communication in hassle-free manner.
  • COMCASA paved the way for transfer of communication security equipment from the US to India to facilitate “interoperability” between their forces — and potentially with other militaries that use US-origin systems for secure data links.

So, what do these three pacts put together mean?

  • While LEMOA means one partner trusts the other enough to expose its valuable assets,
  • COMCASA means one is confident that it can rely on encrypted systems to connect the two militaries, and
  • BECA means it can share highly classified information in real time without fear of being compromised.
  • All this signals the level of trust that has developed between the two countries and their militaries, faced with an increasingly aggressive China.

What does this mean in the context of the ongoing border standoff?

  • Amid the longest stand-off on the India-China border in three decades, India and the US have intensified under-the-radar intelligence and military cooperation at an unprecedented level, especially since June.
  • S. has facilitated information-sharing between security, military and intelligence branches of the two countries — almost reminiscent of the Indo-US cooperation of the 1960s, especially after the 1962 war.
  • The cooperation includes sharing of high-end satellite images, telephone intercepts, and data sharing of Chinese troops and weapons deployment along the 3,488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC).

Is there a catch in all this?

  • The US wants India to move away from Russian equipment and platforms, as it feels this may expose its technology and information to Moscow.
  • So far, India is going ahead with the purchase of the S-400 air defence missile system from Russia, and this has been a sticking point for American interlocutors.
  • For its part, India is wary of Pakistan’s deep-rooted ties with Pentagon, and Washington’s dependence on Rawalpindi for access to Afghanistan as well as its exit strategy.