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India and the United States had signed a Project Agreement (PA) in the end of July for Air-Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (ALUAV) under the ambit of the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), the Defence Ministry said on Friday.

The PA was signed between the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) by the co-chairs of the Joint Working Group (JWG) on Air Systems, under the DTTI on July 30.

“The PA outlines the collaboration between Air Force Research Laboratory, Indian Air Force, and Defence Research and Development Organisation towards design, development, demonstration, testing and evaluation of systems to co-develop an ALUAV prototype,” a Ministry statement said.

The PA for the ALUAV fell under the Research, Development, Testing and Evaluation Memorandum of Agreement between MoD and U.S. DoD, which was first signed in January 2006 and renewed in January 2015, the statement said. It was a significant step towards deepening defence technology collaboration between the two nations through co-development of defence equipment, it stated.

The main aim of the DTTI is to bring sustained leadership focus to promote collaborative technology exchange and create opportunities for co-production and co-development of future technologies for Indian and U.S. military forces. Under the DTTI, Joint Working Groups on land, naval, air, and aircraft carrier technologies have been established for focus on mutually agreed projects in respective domains.

The Aeronautical Development Establishment at the Defence Research and Development Organisation and the Aerospace Systems Directorate at the Air Force Research Laboratory, along with the Indian and U.S. Air Forces, were the principal organisations for the execution of the PA, the statement added.

The DTTI was announced in 2012 as an ambitious initiative for co-production and co-development of military systems but has never really taken off despite several efforts.

In October 2019, as part of efforts to revive the DTTI the two sides had agreed on a joint statement of intent to deepen defence technology cooperation which also outlined specific short, middle and long-term projects under the DTTI, while the JWG on jet engine cooperation was suspended.