NEW DELHI: Defence minister Rajnath Singh is expected to travel to the UK early next month to revitalise security cooperation between the two countries, including potential collaboration in the joint development of combat aircraft and engines for warships.
Singh’s visit, which has been in the pipeline for some time, is a follow-up to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s trip to India in April for a summit with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi, at which the two sides unveiled an expanded defence partnership that envisaged easier access to British military hardware and technology.
The defence minister is expected to be in the UK from July 4, people familiar with the matter said. Both countries are yet to officially announce the visit. Some agreements on defence cooperation are likely to be signed during the trip and both sides are working to lock down the details, the people said.
Days after Johnson’s visit, UK minister of state for defence procurement Jeremy Quin travelled to New Delhi for talks with Singh on bilateral cooperation in areas such as aviation, shipbuilding and other defence industrial programmes.
The British side is keen to revitalise the defence industrial relationship with India, which has not inked any big-ticket arms deal with the UK since it concluded two contracts in 2004 and 2010 for more than 120 Hawk trainer jet aircraft.
Johnson said after his summit with Modi in April that the two sides agreed on a new and expanded defence and security partnership that will support the “Make in India” initiative. The UK will create an India-specific “Open General Export License”, reduce bureaucracy and slash delivery time for defence procurements.
Areas for future cooperation include partnering on new fighter jet technology and maritime technologies. Defence and security cooperation is one of the five pillars of the India-UK comprehensive strategic partnership and the Roadmap 2030.
Among the proposals being discussed by the two sides is the co-development of engines for India’s planned advanced medium combat aircraft and hybrid-electric propulsion systems for warships, the people said.