Armies of India and the US will hold their annual combat exercise “Yudh Abhyas” at Chaubatia in Uttarakhand from September 16 to 29 with an aim to enhance inter-operability between the two forces, officials said.

They said the exercise will also focus on enhancing counter-terror cooperation.

The officials said the scope and intensity of this year’s exercise will be much wider, in reflection of upswing in defence ties between the two countries.

Around 400 soldiers from each side are expected to participate in the exercise, the officials.

The defence and security cooperation between the US and India has witnessed a new momentum in the last couple of years.

Yesterday, the two countries signed a path-breaking agreement which will allow Indian defence forces to receive military-grade communications equipment from the US and ensure access to real-time encrypted information.

The Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) will also help India to obtain critical defence technologies from the US.

In July, the US announced granting India the status of Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) country, the only South Asian nation to be given the designation along with the US’ NATO allies like South Korea, Australia and Japan.

The STA-1 status will help India get critical technology from the US in the defence and certain other key areas.

The move is expected to further facilitate India-US trade and technology collaboration in defence and high technology areas.

Currently there are 36 countries on the STA-1 list. Till recently India was designated as STA-2 countries, along with seven others.

In June 2016, the US had designated India as “Major Defence Partner” intending to elevate defence trade and technology sharing with India to a level commensurate with that of its closest allies and partners.