India, US plan joint drone operations

India and the US are planning joint drone strikes, officials said.

The two countries have also agreed to share information on possible incidents and joint operations to improve air and ground defence capability, Defence Secretary Ajit Doval said on Thursday, adding that the agreement is aimed at strengthening India’s air force.

Doval said the two countries were also working on a joint drone base, adding it was likely to be operationalised by 2020.

He did not provide details on when the drone base would be operationalized.

The agreement on joint drone attacks comes as India and China intensify their rivalry over territory and resources.

India has stepped up its drone patrols in recent years and China has been accused of encroaching on its airspace, while both countries are also engaged in a fierce military rivalry.

More than 20,000 Indian troops and drones have been deployed to counter Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, which has sparked a row between Beijing and Washington.

India’s military said last month that it had killed nine Chinese soldiers in a drone attack on a Chinese fishing vessel in the Bay of Bengal.

China’s Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday.