Washington: Asserting that it is in the US' interest to support India's rise through military-to-military ties, arms sales and exercises, a key Congressional committee has sought a report from Pentagon by November 1 on a five-year action plan to strengthen bilateral defence relations.

The powerful Senate Armed Services Committee said it believes that a deepening global strategic partnership between the US and India will be critical for the maintenance and expansion of a rules-based international system that promotes freedom, democracy, security, prosperity and the rule of law in the 21st century.

"It is in the national interest of the United States, through military-to-military relations, arms sales, bilateral and multilateral joint exercises and other means, to support India's rise and build a strategic and military culture of cooperation and interoperability between our two countries, in particular with regard to the Indo-Pacific region," said the India section of the committee's latest 343-page report.     

The committee noted that combined naval exercises, conducted between the United States and India, have become a vital pillar of stability, security and free and open trade, in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

"Recent US arms sales to India, including C–130J military transport aircraft, a US amphibious transport dock, UH–3H Sea King helicopters, counter-battery radar sets, and P–8 maritime surveillance aircraft, have benefited the United States and India alike, increasing commonality of military equipment platforms and contributing to security in the Indo-Pacific region," the report said.

It also noted that India recently announced its intention to purchase 10 C–17 Globemaster III aircraft. As such the Congressional report asked the administration to submit an unclassified report to it by November 1 this year which provides a plan to enhance US-India security cooperation, including a detailed assessment of the current state of US-India security cooperation.

The Defence Secretary has also been asked to submit to the Congress a five-year plan for enhancing US-India security cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and globally, which among other things should also include recommendations for the US to further improve and expand this relationship in four areas.

The US Defence Secretary has also been asked to include in its report to the Congress a detailed assessment of the desirability and feasibility of the future sale of F–35 Joint Strike Fighters to India, and a potential US partnership with India to co-develop one or more military weapon systems, including but not limited to the anticipated programme to replace the US Air Force T–38 trainer jet.