India, UK outline shared vision on defence cooperation through joint statement

New Delhi [India], April 13 (ANI): Defence ministers and their respective delegations from the United Kingdom and India on Thursday agreed that both nations faced evolving threats and challenges in the 21st century, and agreed to maintain their close interaction.

Both UK Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon and his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley issued a joint statement after their talks in which set out a shared vision for the India-UK defence partnership.

Describing the bilateral defence partnership as enduring and all encompassing to include cooperation in defence industry but also stronger military to military engagement, including training and advanced joint exercises, both sides said renewed engagement will place capability and technology development at its core and seek to harness the complementary strengths in defence manufacturing and develop defence solutions for use in both home and shared export markets.

Both defence ministers agreed to continue to consult and co-ordinate on policies across a range of global security challenges, especially those intended to eliminate the scourge of international terrorism, in pursuit of their shared goal of a more secure world.

Both sides said they will explore additional areas for institutional engagement.

The ministers agreed to further strengthen their naval and maritime interactions, including enhanced Maritime Domain Awareness (MDA) through the bilateral technical agreement to exchange information to track terrorist and pirate vessels, a key deliverable of the DISP. They also agreed to further develop cooperation between the UK Hydrographic Office and the Indian Navy Hydrographic Office.

It was agreed that India and the UK will endeavour to build a range of capability partnerships focussing on varied aspects of military effectiveness such as specialised training interactions and exchange of best practices in the following areas - Counter Terrorism (CT), Counter Improvised Explosive Devices (CIED), Air Force Training, Air Total Safety, Aircraft Carriers, Maritime Safety, Shipbuilding and UN Peacekeeping. Efforts are already underway with exchanges of subject matter experts to discuss air safety collaboration and future CT requirements.

Ministers tasked the relevant Executive Steering Groups (ESGs) to finalise proposals for consideration at the next DCG meeting scheduled later this year.

As India and the UK continue to transform and modernise their defence structures with a shared desire to maximise the efficiencies and operational benefits of establishing joint force structures, the two Ministers agreed to share relevant experience in this domain.

Whilst acknowledging the progress being made, the ministers recognised the potential for further cooperation in defence manufacturing between the UK and Indian companies under the 'Make in India' framework.

Mr. Jaitley welcomed the UK's interest in manufacturing in India as evidenced through recent announcements including the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Bharat Dynamics Ltd. and Thales UK on technology transfer opportunities for missile systems and efforts to develop an Advanced Hawk jet trainer jointly by the BAE Systems and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

Both ministers also agreed to extend the current defence equipment cooperation MOU and work towards early completion of an expanded MOU, that will provide a platform for the UK and Indian industries to collaborate on and support transfer of technology on projects in areas of mutual interest.

They welcomed measures to ensure life cycle support and sustenance of UK-origin defence platforms used by India, which may include setting up joint ventures and other collaborative arrangements.

They also recognised the need for stronger research and development cooperation, including access to defence research and development training, to enable new and vibrant technology partnerships across the defence domain.

They noted recent progress made on defence science and technology collaboration with the signing of the Phase 2 follow-on research collaborative project agreement on human sciences, signed at Aero India 2017. (ANI)