The Pulse

US-India Aircraft Carrier Working Group Meets

Plus, Chinese hackers target India, Modi and Obama set up a hotline, and more. Weekend links.

US-India Aircraft Carrier Working Group Meets
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

A few South Asia-focused defense and security-focused links to wrap up your week:

U.S.-India aircraft carrier working group meets for the first time. For the first time, a group comprising high-level officials from both the United States and India convened in Washington last week to begin what Reuters describes as “an ongoing series of meetings aimed at establishing broader cooperation on the design, development and production of aircraft carriers.” As I’ve discussed in The Diplomat before, both the United States and India have a lot to gain from collaboration on aircraft carrier. Specifically, should U.S. technology, including nuclear propulsion and electromagnetic aircraft launch systems (EMALS), find their way into India’s second indigenous aircraft carrier, the INS Vishal, the Indian Navy could have the most sophisticated carrier fleets in Asia. For the moment, U.S.-India carrier cooperation is in its preliminary stages–as part of this initial working group meeting, U.S. officials took their Indian counterparts to the U.S. naval shipyard where the USS Gerald R. Ford, the first U.S. Ford-class carrier, is being built.

Chinese hackers want Indian diplomatic files. A U.S. cyber security firm, FireEye, released a new report (PDF) showing that a China-based group is “almost certainly” behind a series of attacks on over 70 institutions in India. Reportedly, the hackers have targeted India-based activists and institutions, including government agencies, working on issues that remain sensitive in India-China ties, including Tibet and the border disputes between the two countries. In a press release, FireEye notes that the hackers “sent targeted spear phishing emails containing Microsoft Word attachments to its intended victims. These documents pertained to regional issues and contained a script called WATERMAIN, which creates backdoors on infected machines.”

Modi and Obama have a hotline. A secure line between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama has been established, in line with plans set out during Obama’s visit to India in January 2015. This is the first time that the two countries have established a direct line of contact between their leaders.

‘No Decision’ on Blocking U.S. Military Aid to Pakistan for Now. Yesterday, Pakistani media reports suggested that the U.S. Defense Department would likely withhold certification that Pakistan’s counter-terror operations had adequately inhibited the ability of the Haqqani Network to operate freely along the Afghan-Pakistan border. In responding to those reports, Pentagon spokesman Major Roger Cabiness notes that “no decision has been made regarding certification requirements.”