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Asia Minute: India’s Defense Spending Draws U.S. Attention

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Military spending makes up a significant portion of Hawaii’s economy. The Defense Department’s Office of Economic Adjustment puts it at roughly 10-percent of the state’s economy—second only to Virginia.

Around the Asia Pacific, military spending is rising—and there are new developments this week from India.

India’s latest plans on defense spending are drawing attention from the United States.

The New Delhi government has approved buying 6 and a half billion dollars in hardware.

That includes 111 naval helicopters and two-dozen anti-submarine helicopters, among other items.

Lockheed Martin will make the anti-submarine choppers, but some of the other equipment will go out for bids, part of a lengthy process.

There’s also news this week about India’s plans to buy a 6-billion dollar surface-to-air missile system from Russia.

On Wednesday, Reuters quoted the Pentagon’s top Asia official as saying that could result in U.S. sanctions.

Randall Schriver is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs—and he told reporters the U.S. would “have very significant concerns if India pursued major new platforms and systems” from Russia.

The topic is likely to be on the table next week—when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis are scheduled to go to India.

Those meetings have been postponed twice in recent months by the Trump Administration—going back to when Rex Tillerson was replaced at the State Department.

Overall, the Financial Times reports India is spending 62-billion dollars on its military this fiscal year.

That’s up by nearly a third from just five years ago.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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