India, UK to step up defence cooperation, fighter jet engine and LCA on agenda

India and the UK have decided to scale up bilateral defence cooperation with a multipronged approach that includes an increase in military exercises, collaboration on the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft and significantly, plans to work on the future fighter jet engine requirement of the air force.

PM Modi & Johnson at their summit have also agreed on new cooperation on Maritime Domain Awareness, which includes new agreements on maritime information sharing, an invitation to the UK to join India’s Information Fusion Centre in Gurgaon and an ambitious exercise programme which includes joint tri-lateral exercises, according to officials.

The two countries are also working to conclude a Logistics Memorandum of Understanding that will enhance joint ability to tackle shared challenges, it has been learnt. In addition to commitments on the Indo-Pacific, the two PMs agreed to build on existing government-to-government collaboration on India’s future combat air engine requirement. As part of a ‘2030 Roadmap’, the leaders agreed to work closely together in support of India’s indigenous development of the Light Combat Aircraft Mark 2, officials said The combat air engine requirement is among the top priorities for India that is seeking to go independent for future requirements of fighters.

The mission to develop a new engine for the future Advanced Multi Role Combat Aircraft has been accorded special priority by the PMO that ha been overseeing the project. Both France and the UK have promised technology and studies are currently underway to ascertain which partnership can prove to be more beneficial for the program.

The India-UK 2030 roadmap announced at the Summit envisages expanding cooperation under the Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP) agreed in 2015 It aims to promote freedom of navigation and open access, and improve maritime cooperation through a partnership in the Western Indian Ocean, with a new Maritime Dialogue, Grey and Dark Shipping information sharing and mechanisms for operational co-ordination all in place.

The document also envisages conducting Joint Service exercises and demonstrate greater complexity in military exchanges. Under the Defence Consultative Group, the two sides will embark on a new, ambitious Strategic Collaborative Partnership on research, innovation, technology and industry to develop transformational defence and security capabilities to tackle common threats and the operational challenges of the future, building on the current collaboration under the UK-India Defence Technology and Industrial Capability Cooperation (DTICC) MoU.

The 2030 document also envisages establishing a portfolio of UK-India collaborative projects to support the development of new technologies and capabilities, including government-to-government and business-to business arrangements and projects. UK Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin has said: “The UK and India enjoy a strong defence and security relationship. We remain committed to close collaboration with India as we both adapt to meet future threats and look to innovate our defence equipment programmes and systems.” Expressing similar sentiments British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, said: “The UK and India are natural partners in defence and security.

Today’s announcements underline our shared ambition for that partnership, enhancing cooperation, building joint expertise and accelerating industrial cooperation, building up to the arrival of our new aircraft carrier and its accompanying ships to India this autumn.” Tuesday’s announcements follow the news that the UK’s Carrier Strike Group 2021, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth, will sail to India in the autumn on its maiden operational deployment. The UK Integrated Review – a landmark review of foreign, defence, development and security policy, announced in March- committed the UK to becoming the European country with the broadest, most integrated presence in the Indo-Pacific in support of trade, shared security and values, according to a UK government statement.

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