An Australia soldier firing an F90 Close Quarter Battle Carbine

Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour exercise has pulled into port in India, and has created avenues for Australia’s defence industry to capitalise on export opportunities stemming from India’s defence modernisation programs

by Stephen Kuper

Thales Australia has signed a teaming agreement with Kalyani Group, an Indian auto ancillary and defence company, to compete for the upcoming close quarter battle carbine procurement for India’s Ministry of Defence. The agreement was signed on board HMAS Canberra in Vishakhapatnam, India.

Defence Industry Minister Linda Reynolds said the signing of the teaming agreement was a win-win for Australia and India.

"Thales Australia will offer the F90 CQB, a short-barrelled variant for the F90/EF-88 rifle in service with the Australian Defence Force, in partnership with Kalyani Group, who will manufacture the weapon in India," she said.

Engagement with India through AUSINDEX is the cornerstone of Australia’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour series this year. Indo-Pacific Endeavour 19 is the Australian Defence Force’s major regional engagement activity and delivers on the promise of the 2016 Defence White Paper to strengthen Australia’s engagement and partnerships with regional security forces.

Defence Minister Christopher Pyne recently explained, "Australia is committed to deepening our engagement with India and I’m pleased that our bilateral defence relationship continues to go from strength to strength. We have gone from 11 defence exercises, meetings and activities in 2014 to 38 in 2018."

This teaming agreement supports the implementation of the government's Defence Export Strategy, which establishes a comprehensive system to plan, guide, and measure defence export outcomes.

The strategic goal over the next decade to 2028 is to achieve greater export success to build a stronger, more sustainable and more globally competitive Australian defence industry to support Australia’s Defence capability needs.

In support of this strategic goal, the government’s ambition is to achieve the following five objectives by 2028:

1. Strengthen the partnership between the Australian government and industry to pursue defence export opportunities;

2. Sustain Australia's defence industrial capabilities across peaks and troughs in domestic demand;

3. Enable greater innovation and productivity in Australia's defence industry to deliver world-leading Defence capabilities;

4. Maintain the capability edge of the ADF and leverage Defence capability development for export opportunities; and

5. Grow Australia's defence industry to become a top 10 global defence exporter.

Minister Reynolds added, "This procurement is for up to 350,000 carbines for the Indian Armed Forces, which would be delivered over a period of five years."

Engagement with India, one of Australia’s key strategic partners in the Indian Ocean region, will be the cornerstone for IPE19, with a number of high-level activities to be conducted to showcase the breadth and depth of the bilateral relationship between the two nations.

Minister Pyne said in late 2018 that Australia’s relationship with India had expanded significantly since the signing of the Whole-of-Government Framework for Security Cooperation in November 2014, and he was dedicated to further strengthening this partnership.

HMA Ships Canberra, Success, Newcastle and Parramatta, supported by the submarine HMAS Collins and a Royal Australian Air Force P8-A Poseidon aircraft, are in India for AUSINDEX 2019 for the bilateral Navy exercise.