On 28th November 2019 the UK India Business Council (UKIBC) and the Defence and Security Organisation (DSO) announced the establishment of an Aerospace and Defence Industry Group. The group will be supported by the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UK DSC), ADS Group Ltd, the Department for International Trade (DIT), and industry.
The purpose of the Aerospace and Defence Industry Group is to support the positive momentum in the UK-India defence partnership. It seeks to enhance UK-India strategic cooperation, drive improvements and efficiency in India’s defence acquisition process and to foster longer term technology and hardware transfers between the UK and India.
The UK-India relationship in aerospace and defence is driven by distinct and powerful drivers on both sides.
The Government of India (GoI) is strongly focused on the modernisation and the enhancement of its military capability; future strategic programmes include the 114-fighter programme, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, aircraft carriers and an up to 5,000 armoured-vehicle requirement.
In addition, it is prioritising ‘Make in India’, to raise the domestic private share of budget from 5% to 20% but nevertheless remains the world’s second largest importer of major arms, accounting for 9.5% of the global total.
At the same time, the UK Government needs to deepen its international relationships after leaving the European Union, and replicate in defence the trade success it has achieved in other sectors in India over the last 3 years. For the UK, India must be a long-term, strategic partner with an emphasis on co-development of technology and capability, ‘Make in India’ and, ultimately ‘export from India’. This will involve much more than just hardware – for example, it means focusing on specific areas of technology collaboration and skills-building in India.
Building on the DGP in 2015, a bilateral statement in April 2018 committed the two countries to forging closer military cooperation. This has culminated, in April 2019, with an MoU on Defence Technology and Industrial Capability Cooperation; the G2G framework represents a major shift in the UK Government’s approach to India and is underpinned by DSO strengthening the resources it allocates to India.
A Defence Industry dialogue is required between UK and India to make the most of emerging opportunities to help underpin the MoU. This requires an empowered and properly resourced industry association.
UKIBC will work with both Governments on an ongoing basis, providing insight, analysis and data on UK defence strategy. UKIBC aims to expand the group to include cyber and security to broaden the narrative beyond air, land and maritime work to support cross sector activity.
The core industry members of the group are Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Thales UK, MBDA, Leonardo, TVS Logistics, PEXA, Pattonair and Cranfield University.