During Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s two-day visit to London, the United Kingdom announced its intentions to deploy warships to the Indian Ocean later this year, with plans for an aircraft carrier to join in 2025 for joint training and operations with Indian forces. This move is part of the collaborative efforts between the UK and India to enhance their security cooperation. Grant Shapps, the UK Defence Secretary, announced that the Royal Navy’s Littoral Response Group is scheduled to visit the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) later this year, while the Carrier Strike Group is expected to engage in joint training and operations with Indian forces in the following year.
In an official statement, the UK Ministry of Defence highlighted the commitment of both nations to fortify their ties during the first visit of an Indian Defence Minister to the UK in over two decades. Reflecting the increasing significance of the strategic alliance between the UK and India, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps welcomed his Indian counterpart, leading to an agreement on unprecedented levels of defence cooperation between the two countries. Discussions encompassed various aspects of defence collaboration, including joint exercises, knowledge exchange, and instructor swaps, building upon the comprehensive strategic partnership outlined in the 2030 India-UK roadmap, unveiled in 2021.
“In the coming years, the UK and India will also embark on more complex exercises between their respective militaries, building up to a landmark joint exercise to be conducted before the end of 2030, supporting shared goals of protecting critical trade routes and upholding the international rules-based system,” it said.
The statement emphasised that collaboration with the industry plays a pivotal role in the strategic defence partnership between the UK and India. The two nations are actively engaged in joint efforts to advance electric propulsion systems that will power future fleets and are cooperating on the development of complex weapons.
Shapps said, “There is absolutely no question that the world is becoming increasingly contested, so it’s vital that we continue to build on our strategic relationships with key partners like India. Together, we share the same security challenges and are steadfast in our commitment to maintaining a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” the statement stated.
During Singh’s visit to the UK and the bilateral discussions with Shapps on Tuesday, several new joint initiatives were unveiled. Among them is the initiation of the Defence Partnership-India, aimed at enhancing defence collaboration between the two nations. On Wednesday, Singh addressed top leaders and CEOs from the UK defence industry at an event in Trinity House, London. He expressed appreciation for the investment and technology collaboration from the UK, emphasising that India is well-prepared with a skilled human resource base and a pro-business ecosystem.
During the meeting, Singh expressed appreciation for the investment and technology collaboration from the UK. He emphasised that India is well-prepared with a skilled human resource base, a strong pro-FDI and pro-business ecosystem, and a substantial domestic market. The UK industry leaders outlined their present and future initiatives for India, highlighting aeronautical engines, electric propulsion, missiles, power packs, and maritime systems as critical areas of joint collaboration.
The UK-India Defence Industry CEOs Roundtable saw the participation of many CEOs from the UK defence industry, alongside officials from the UK Ministry of Defence, the UK India Business Council, and representatives from the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Prominent companies in attendance included BAE Systems, GE Vernova, James Fisher Defence, Leonardo S.p.A., Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd, SAAB UK, Thales UK, Ultra-Maritime Rolls-Royce, ADS Group, and MBDA UK.
Rajnath Singh also called on the British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and held a meeting with the UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron.