English News


DefExpo 2022: UK keen to ramp up defence cooperation with India 

Soldiers from the British Army's Iron Division participating in the sixth edition of India-UK joint company level military training exercise 'Ajeya Warrior' at Chaubatia in Uttarakhand, last year (Image courtesy: Twitter/@3rdUKDivision)

India and Britain continue to forge a path for stronger military ties with the creation of a new Defence Industry Joint Working Group (JWG) for more effective cooperation.

Defence industry organisations from India and the United Kingdom which came together to create the initiative held the inaugural meeting on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 in Gandhinagar in Gujarat on Tuesday.

The JWG is part of an ongoing initiative between the two countries to strengthen the defence and security partnership through industrial collaboration.

The UK has made it clear that it sees developing the security and defence relationship with “like-minded” partner India, the world’s largest democracy, as a key part of its Indo-Pacific tilt.

As many as 20 British defence companies are participating in the 12th edition of Asia’s largest defence event which outlines Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of a ‘New India’ that not only caters to its own needs but also fulfils international requirements.

The UK industry is already integrating Indian defence suppliers into its global supply chain. In July, the country issued its first Open General Export License (OGEL) in the Indo-Pacific region to India, shortening delivery times for defence procurement.

Meanwhile, the Royal Air Force (RAF) recently conducted a subject matter expertise exchange with Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) during the visit of Eurofighter Typhoon, Voyager and A400 in New Delhi and also held joint-flying exercises with the Indian Air Force (IAF).

Alex Ellis, the British High Commissioner to India, said that the UK supports PM Modi’s ambitions of Make in India, Make for the World.

“A stronger UK-India defence relationship is an essential element of the British and Indian governments’ Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. The British Government and industry presence at DefExpo is further proof of this, as is our support for co-creation of next generation capabilities that will be fully owned by India,” he said in a statement.

The UK, a world leader in critical defence technologies such as jet engine developments and electric propulsion technology, stated that it is keen to share the expertise with India supported by respective industries.

While the JWG will establish a strong partnership between the respective navies for development of Electric Propulsion capability for India, companies like Rolls Royce have established packaging, installation, marketing and services support for Rolls-Royce MT30 marine engines in India through a partnership with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Rolls Royce
Earlier this month, India’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Vikram Doraiswami visited Rolls Royce with DRDO Director General Chandrika Koushik to discuss deepening existing and planned aviation and defence partnerships in India (Image courtesy: Twitter/@HCI_London)

Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and Thales UK have signed an agreement to produce the next generation of Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) missiles in India, supplying to both the UK and Indian Armies with a ‘Made in India’ Laser Beam Riding MANPAD System.

MBDA Missile Systems UK has also established live build capability for the Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) in partnership with BDL.

“This is another step in the growing defence relations between the two countries, who are working to establish a portfolio of collaborative projects to support the development of new technologies and capabilities as agreed under the 2030 Roadmap. The UK sees it is in its own interest that India becomes self-reliant in its defence needs,” said Mark Goldsack, Director, UK Defence and Security Exports.

Defence Cooperation
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in a meeting with UK Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin and UK Navy chief Admiral Tony Radakin in this April 2022 photo. Quin is currently Minister of State at the Home Office while Radakin is the chief of Britain’s Defence Staff (File image courtesy: Twitter/@DefenceHQ)

Just about the same time last year, when HMS Queen Elizabeth – the largest and most powerful vessel ever constructed for the British Navy – was visiting Mumbai with her Carrier Strike Group (CSG) escorts, UK Navy chief Admiral Tony Radakin, it’s Chief of Defence Staff Nick Carter and country’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss were in New Delhi forging closer diplomatic, defence and security partnership with India.

Truss is now the country’s Prime Minister and Radakin the British military chief as both countries remain committed to the landmark 2030 Roadmap on maritime security, cyber security and counter-terrorism signed last year.

Also Read: India offers defence hardware to African countries to counter Islamic State