Britain Eyes India’s Defense Market But Experts Ask If the UK Can Outdo Russia

Visiting UK Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon said at a conference that his country wants to “design, develop, add value with India and export together to third countries and to a new market.”

In the aftermath of Brexit, Fallon expressed optimism that he has “an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate the partnership” with India during his speech at the UK-India Strategic Dialogue: Opportunity and Security in a Changing World, organized by the New Delhi-based think-tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF).

Apart from the defense sector, Fallon listed cyber security as a potential area of cooperation between the two countries to “defuse fanatical propaganda and to protect impressionable young minds.”

Despite the UK offer, can it transfer sophisticated technology to India like Russia? “India and Russia enjoy a high level of mutual trust when it comes to defense partnership,” ORF Senior Fellow Ashok Malik had noted during a high-level panel discussion last week.

The UK defense secretary didn’t offer any concrete roadmap but again expressed optimism that his government is “looking at how we can further facilitate the transfer of that technology under a government-to-government framework.”

Russia is competing for India’s defense market on the basis of merit.

“Russia will have to compete and prove that its products can meet India’s requirements. And Russia is competing very well with Israel, the US, France and others in catering to Indian defense demands,” former Russian diplomat to India Vyacheslav Trubnikov told Sputnik.

India-Russia military-technical cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defense technologies and systems. BrahMos Missile System, joint design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, as well as the licensed production in India of Sukhoi 30MKI aircraft and T-90 tanks, are examples of such flagship cooperation.

At present, the UK is not even among the top five defense suppliers to India and the country has been left behind, said Rajeswari Rajagopalan, senior Fellow at the ORF. “Russia, the US, Israel and France are all more significant in terms of weapons sales,” the Financial Times quoted her as saying.

Over the years, the UK’s defense exports to India, the world’s top importer of weapons, have sharply fallen, accounting for 13% of the total global sales between 2012 and 2016, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

By: Sputnik

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