Defence Minister Rajnath Singh commences a two-day visit to the UK on Monday, aiming to enhance strategic and security ties between the two nations. The discussions between Singh and his British counterpart, Grant Shapps, will encompass potential collaborations in the joint development of fighter jets and other military platforms. The Defence Ministry, in its statement, highlighted that the talks will be held on a broad spectrum of topics within the realms of defence, security, and industrial cooperation.
During his visit, Singh will also meet British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Minister David Cameron. A high-level delegation comprising senior officials from the three services, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the Department of Defence Production, accompanies the Defence Minister.
“He will also interact with the CEOs and industry leaders of the UK Defence Industry and meet with the Indian community there,” the Ministry said in a statement. Discussions between Singh and Defence Secretary Shapps are expected to centre primarily on the exchange of critical technology and the augmentation of bilateral industrial defence cooperation. The talks will likely revolve around the collaborative efforts in developing military platforms. Besides, both leaders will take up the issues concerning the prevailing situations in the Indo-Pacific, West Asia, and Ukraine.
In April 2022, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his then-British counterpart Boris Johnson agreed to expand the India-UK defence partnership. During Johnson’s visit to India, he announced an Open General Export Licence (OGEL) for India to streamline defence procurement processes and reduce bureaucratic hurdles.
Furthermore, the British Prime Minister announced the UK’s commitment to assisting India in the co-development of military hardware, including the indigenous production of fighter jets. A joint statement issued after the discussions between Modi and Johnson underscored their commitment to “transform” defence and security cooperation, emphasising its pivotal role within the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
It’s worth noting that the India-UK relationship was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership during the virtual summit between Modi and Johnson in May 2021.