By Anil Bhat
In a significant reflection of the US designating India as its Major Defence Partner, a large and diverse delegation from the US led by the country's Ambassador to India, Kenneth Juster, is participating in India's premier defence trade event in Chennai April 11-13.
"The delegation includes active duty military officers, government officials, and industry executives - demonstrating the depth and breadth of the commitment of the US to the US-India Major Defence Partner relationship," a US Embassy statement said. The US government delegation led by Kenneth I. Juster, US Ambassador to India, and Major General Bryan Suntheimer, Deputy Commanding General of US Army Pacific saw 19 US companies exhibiting and many more participating.
The UK government and its defence companies too are seeking to deepen and broaden their strategic defence equipment partnerships with India at DEFEXPO 2018. UK’s attendance is focussing on creating a genuine “two-way street” of defence equipment collaboration, investment and technology transfer, with a statment saying it is keen to share its knowledge and experience on developing innovative and cost-effective defence equipment capabilities as the Indian armed forces continue to modernise. Guto Bebb, UK Minister for Defence Procurement, is leading the UK delegation accompanied by the British High Commissioner to India, the UK Deputy Chief of Defence Staff and the Regional Director for India at the UK Department of International Trade’s Defence and Security Organisation (DSO). The minister is accompanied by some 20 UK companies who are keen to forge mutually beneficial industrial partnerships and joint ventures with Indian companies.
Bebb said: “The UK and India have much to offer one another in defence: including research, development, collaboration and training. We want to work in partnership with India to build on our shared mutual knowledge, security and prosperity. "We have a range of world-class capabilities across the air, land, maritime, cyber and space domain and we are encouraging UK and Indian companies to innovate, develop and sustain long-term industrial partnerships to meet our shared requirements and to launch new products and capabilities into the global marketplace.”
It will be the first time L&T MBDA Missile Systems Ltd, the joint venture formed with Larsen and Toubro in 2017, will be exhibiting. ATGM5 (Anti-tank guided missile) makes its first ever public appearance at DeFEXPO. MBDA is exhibiting a full range of its missiles and missile systems portfolio on its own stand that could be of interest to India and other countries across the main defence domains: air, land and sea. MBDA’s other exhibits are MISTRAL, MICA, ASRAAM, METEOR, BRIMSTONE, MILAN, ATAM and EXOCET missiles.
MBDA will also be displaying its NCM (Naval Cruise Missile). This very long-range surface attack stand-off cruise missile is designed to attack deep into enemy territory. Given its range, it will provide navies and surface and sub-surface vessels with the ability to maintain a prolonged dissuasive force in theatre unlike an aircraft launched missile.
(The author, an Indian Army veteran and strategic analyst, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)