Japan and India are likely to reach a broad defense accord next month that is seen as a step toward exporting Japanese-made amphibious aircraft, government sources said Saturday.
An accord on the transfer of military equipment and technology is expected to be sealed when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits India from Dec. 11 to 13, reflecting Tokyo’s desire to have closer ties with New Delhi over maritime security to counter China’s growing assertiveness at sea.
Since Tokyo eased its nearly half-century ban on military equipment exports in April 2014, Japan and India have accelerated talks over India’s possible purchase of US-2 amphibious aircraft.
The all-weather plane can take off and land at sea and has a range of more than 4,500 kilometers. India is considering using the aircraft to enhance its sea patrol capabilities, the sources said. Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force uses the aircraft for rescue operations.
But the two countries have yet to conclude negotiations that have continued for more than two years, given the relatively high cost of the aircraft, about ¥12 billion ($98 million).
The accord will contain measures aimed at preventing the leak of Japanese technological secrets. India will be banned from transferring the equipment or technology to a third-party without Tokyo’s consent.
Japan had a longtime ban on arms exports but is now allowing the selling or transfer of defense-related equipment and technology if doing so contributes to international cooperation or Japanese national security interests.