Spearhead Carrier to be deployed in Indian Ocean as India, UK vow to strengthen defence cooperation during Rajnath Singh's visit

World Thursday 11/January/2024 07:59 AM
Spearhead Carrier to be deployed in Indian Ocean as India, UK vow to strengthen defence cooperation during Rajnath Singh's visit

London : Aiming to bolster defence ties between New Delhi and London, the United Kingdom will send its naval groups-- Littoral Response Group and Carrier Strike Group-- to the Indian Ocean Region, in addition to holding multiple joint military exercises and expanding defence cooperation with India.

The UK Carrier Strike Group is a carrier battle group of the Royal Navy, while the Littoral Response Group is a Royal Navy task group.

The former will be deployed to the Indian Ocean Region later this year, and the latter will visit the region in 2025. Both will operate and train with Indian forces, UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday.

The UK and India on Wednesday vowed to continue strengthening ties during Defence Minister Rajnath Singh's visit to the country. This is the first visit of an Indian Defence Minister to the UK in more than 20 years.

On the second and final day of his visit to the UK, Rajnath Singh interacted with top UK Defence industry leaders and CEOs at an event in Trinity House, London, the Ministry of Defence said in a statement.

"Had a wonderful interaction with the industry leaders and CEOs at the UK-India Defence CEO Roundtable in London. India envisions an enriching partnership with the UK to cooperate, co-create and co-innovate. By synergizing the strengths of both the countries, we can do great things together," Singh posted on X.

The UK-India Defence Industry CEOs Roundtable, co-chaired by Singh with his UK counterpart Grant Shapps was attended by a large number of CEOs from the UK defence industry; UK MoD officials; Chair, UK India Business Council; and CII India representatives. Some of the major companies represented were 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.

The meeting was also attended by UK Minister of State for Defence Procurement, James Cartildge. The Roundtable included thematic discussions on strengthening the India-UK defence industrial relationship.

In the meeting, the Defence Minister welcomed the investment and technology collaboration from the UK and stated that India is ready with a skilled human resource base, a robust pro-FDI and pro-business ecosystem, and a huge domestic market.

Rajnath Singh asserted that under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is surging ahead on the path of becoming a developed economy by 2047. The ambition is backed by a clear-headed roadmap to chart the course, and is backed by the collective will-power of 1.4 billion Indians to stay the course, the statement read.

Highlighting the importance of the India-UK ties, the Defence Minister said there is a symbiotic relationship between the two countries and the Government of India envisions an enriching partnership with the UK to cooperate, co-create and co-innovate.

"By synergising the strengths of our nations, we can do great things together," he said.

Grant Shapps agreed with Singh regarding the symbiotic relationship between India and UK. Shapps further stated that the ties transcend the normal buyer-seller relationship and are fundamentally a strategic partnership.

The industry leaders from UK outlined their current and future plans for India. Aero-engines, Electric Propulsion, missiles, power-packs, and maritime systems were identified as some of the focus areas of joint work. Defence Minister Singh noted the positivity and enthusiasm of UK CEOs and business leaders about working in India and with the Indian companies.

According to the statement by the UK government, Shapps welcomed Singh to the UK to agree on unprecedented levels of UK-India defence cooperation, according to an official release.

The two nations also discussed future cooperation in defence from joint exercises to knowledge sharing and instructor exchanges. These steps build on the comprehensive strategic partnership envisaged in the 2030 India-UK roadmap, announced 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, as per the release.

Meanwhile, the UK and India have also confirmed several new joint initiatives. This includes signing a Letter of Arrangement that will enable further emphasis to be placed on research and development between the two nations, focused on next-generation capabilities.

This also includes solidifying an agreement on logistics exchange, allowing for the provision of logistic support, supplies and services between the United Kingdom and Indian Armed Forces, for joint training, joint exercises, authorised port visits and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, the statement read.

Later in the day, Rajanth Singh also met UK Foreign Secretary and former PM David Cameron and discussed enhancing India-UK ties and cooperation.

"Insightful deliberations with the UK Foreign Secretary, Mr David Cameron on boosting India-UK ties and deepening cooperation between both the countries," Singh posted on X.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rajnath Singh held a bilateral meeting with his counterpart Grant Shapps. The emphasis was on enhancing defence-industrial cooperation between the two countries. The bilateral meeting was followed by the signing of two agreements between India and the UK - an MoU on the conduct of a bilateral international cadet exchange programme, and a Letter of Arrangement between the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) on defence collaboration in research and development, the Ministry stated.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Singh also paid floral tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at his statue at Tavistock Square.

He also visited the Ambedkar House in London and paid tributes to Dr BR Ambedkar. The Ambedkar House was the home of Dr. BR Ambedkar, who lived there between 1921 and 1922 while he was pursuing a degree in Economics at London School of Economics, and a degree in Law at Gray's Inn.

Rajnath Singh, while paying tributes to Dr Ambedkar, noted in the Visitor's Book message that it is a great experience to visit the memorial of the creator of venerable Constitution of India, the guiding light of our Republic.

Rajnath Singh also visited the Sri Swaminarayan temple at Neasden and paid his respects, the Ministry added.