UK, India renew defence collaboration pledge

16 April 2019

BAE Systems has confirmed that it has started talks with India about a possible joint programme featuring the UK company’s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier (pictured). Source: BAE Systems

Key Points

  • India and the UK aim to 'redouble efforts' to pursue opportunities related to defence equipment and defence industrial collaboration
  • BAE Systems confirms it has started talks with India about possible collaboration on Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier

India and the UK have signed a renewed defence accord through which the two countries have agreed to "redouble efforts" to identify mutual defence requirements and collaborate on solutions, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

An MoD statement on 15 April said the renewed memorandum of understanding (MOU) "marks a step change" in the defence relationship between India and the UK, with emphasis on collaboration on defence procurement and industrial co-operation.

"By collaborating and exploiting procurement opportunities together both nations will be able to benefit from technological and manufacturing capabilities and support long-term co-operation between their defence and security industries," the UK MoD said.

The MoD also indicated that a focus of the agreement will be to explore opportunities in naval systems. The MoD also pointed out that the MOU was signed following a visit by Indian Navy (IN) chief Admiral Sunil Lanba to the UK Royal Navy's HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in Portsmouth in March and exercises undertaken by the two navies in late 2018.

One possible area of UK-India collaboration is the UK's Queen Elizabeth-class (QEC) aircraft carrier. Constructor BAE Systems confirmed to Jane's on 16 April that the company has held talks with India about a potential joint programme. The QEC design is seen as a possible contender to meet the IN's requirement for a second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2).

The IN's first aircraft carrier (IAC-1) - named INS Vikrant - is being built by Cochin Shipyard Limited in southern India and is scheduled to enter service in the early 2020s. The IN envisages IAC-2 entering service in the early 2030s.

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