“The UK and India are due to finalise a Letter of Arrangement between the UK's Defence Science & Technology Laboratory and India's Defence Research & Development Organisation. This will help to deliver advanced security capabilities through joint research, co-design, co-development and joint production of defence technology and systems,” UK Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin told the House of Commons this week.
Quin, who was recently in India for these discussions, was responding to a written parliamentary question by Opposition Labour Party MP Kevan Jones on the steps planned by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) to “support India's requirements for new technology”.
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It follows the visit of last month, during which closer defence and security ties were in the spotlight as a “key pillar” of the “India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”. An “open general export license” to facilitate technology engagement with India and an “open opportunity” for India to participate in the UK’s aviation and naval shipbuilding programmes were among the other highlights in the joint statement signed by Johnson and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“The leaders noted the importance of robust defence industrial collaboration for manufacturing of defence equipment, systems, spare parts, components, aggregates and other related products and key capabilities, under the Make-in-India program through co-development, indigenisation, transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures for meeting the needs of the Armed Forces of India and other countries,” the reads.
“They noted cooperation in key areas of strategic collaboration including Modern Fighter Aircraft and Jet Engine Advanced Core Technology. Both sides agreed to work bilaterally and with key partner countries to facilitate highest level access to technology to Indian industry,” it adds.
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It follows an increasing focus on India-UK ties in the defence sector in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with the UK acknowledging the need to actively enhance strategic ties with India and the wider region.
“I think the issue for India is there is some level of dependence on Russia, both in terms of its defence relationships but also in terms of its economic relationships. And I think the way forward is for a closer economic and defence relationship with India,” UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stated recently.