India-UK military ties: Both sides keen to expand ties to face challenges

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Published: July 15, 2019 3:30:08 PM

The Air Forces have had Ex-Indra Dhanush which took place in the UK in last year.

The armies of both countries have been participating in Exercise Ajeya Warrior which last took place in Rajasthan in 2017 and the next edition is due to take place in the UK later this year.

The UK and India are currently very strong natural partners and are looking to expand their military ties in the face of modern security challenges, such as in the Indo-Pacific and with cybersecurity.

In an exclusive interaction with Financial Express Online, British Defence Adviser, Brigadier Gavin Thompson, said that “With similar Defence budgets, we stand united against terrorism in all its forms, and to promote a secure international maritime domain. With UK experience and the cutting-edge expertise, the capability of India’s industry and the demand from the Indian government for state of the art combat air technology, it is clear that India and the UK have much to gain from each other in creating even firmer ties.”

The two governments are currently in discussions about partnerships and sharing of expertise in four key capability areas including: Cyber, Army modernisation, Carrier, and Future Combat Air System. Thompson was responding to a question if any British Defence company is participating in military tenders.

The UK is the 2nd largest defence exporter in the world with a deservedly high reputation and the two countries have inked the joint UK – India Defence Equipment Memorandum of Understanding in April this year.

According to the British Defence Adviser, “We have supported the ‘Make in India’ ethos within the Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP) and will continue to work together to share the burden of future development and expansion.”

The British and Indian armies are working together right now with the UN Peace Keeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). “Using our military expertise to improve the mission and train others as seen with the Royal Engineers’ construction projects and Field Hospital. Under the DISP the UK and India have formed five bilateral working groups as subgroups to the Defence Consultative Group around the areas of Army, Navy, Air Force, Science & Technology, and Equipment. To that we will shortly add 2 more for the Joint Environment (which includes Cyber and Space), and Defence Reform.”

Also the two sides are working together well and both take value from the experience. “This is evident from our bi-annual exercise programme across all the services where Indian and British forces undertake combined exercises,” said British Defence Adviser.

The armies of both countries have been participating in Exercise Ajeya Warrior which last took place in Rajasthan in 2017 and the next edition is due to take place in the UK later this year. Both Navies participate in Ex-Konkan, which had taken place off the coast of Goa in 2018, and after which the UK participating ship, HMS Dragon, made record breaking drug seizures of over 18 tonnes of narcotics. The Air Forces have had Ex-Indra Dhanush which took place in the UK in last year.

Alongside the exercises, the two countries have long-standing leading exchange programmes in Defence Education, delivering senior officer professional development and other academic courses in defence and international security, he added.

For example, a British brigadier is currently attending the National Security and Strategic Study course at the National Defence College in Delhi, (even Brig Thomson is a graduate of that course), and three Indian 1st ranked officers every year attend the Royal College of Defence Studies, the UK’s senior and premier course on strategy and international relations.

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