New Delhi: Indian Ocean will be focus of defence cooperation between India and the United Kingdom in the coming days.
“Vice Chief of Defence Staff visited India to discuss, amongst other things, Britain’s commitment to Ocean Region. The relationship between Royal Navy and Indian Navy presents opportunities for cooperation, ranging from Safety to Electric Propulsion to Cooperation on Aircraft Carriers,” officials in British High Commission said.
British High Commissioner to India, Sir Dominic Asquith, said that the defence relationship between two countries has seen a lot of momentum in recent times. He said that aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, a Royal Navy Destroyer, will operate in the Indian Ocean region on her maiden voyage while another Destroyer HMS Defender visited Goa this week.
Some high level visits are also lined up. UK’s civil service head of the Ministry of Defence and a Homeland Security Trade Mission led by Director of the UK’s Defence and Security organisations will be in Indian this month while in December India-UK governmental talks on Defence Equipment Sub-Group is scheduled. In order to strengthen maritime cooperation with India, British government has placed a liaison officer in Indian Navy’s Information Fusion Centre in Gurgaon.
“Apart from Milan 2020, the 2021 version of our bilateral Navy exercise – Konkan — could be the most complex and sophisticated yet,” sources said adding India and UK have been actively training and trading together in defence. “We are ready to respond to India’s ambitions in defence sector with willingness for technology transfer,” sources added. In trade, more and more UK companies are keen to do business in India. India and UK have been top five investors in each other’s economy since 2010. In fact, India invests more in the UK than the rest of the EU combined. IndiGo recently placed an order for 300 Airbus A320 neo family jets worth £25 billion, the wings of which are built in the UK. Meanwhile, sources in British government said that the incident of stone pelting on Indian High Commission in London recently is “behind us.”
Britain maintains that it allows the freedom to protest and dissent in a peaceful manner but regretted an incident where Indian High Commission building was targetted. “I hope it is behind us,” sources said.