The defence cooperation focus on strategic collaboration in areas such as modern fighter aircraft and jet engine advanced core technology is part of what has been described as “highest level access” to technology to the Indian industry

London: India and the UK are in the process of finalising an arrangement for the joint production of advanced defence technology and systems, the British Parliament has been informed.

In response to a written question in the House of Commons, UK Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin confirmed that a Letter of Arrangement between the defence research agencies on both sides is in the process of being agreed.

Such an arrangement is intended to cover joint research and co-development programmes between the two countries, enhancing bilateral ties in the defence sector.

“The UK and India are due to finalise a Letter of Arrangement between the UK's Defence Science & Technology Laboratory and India's Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO),” said Quin, in a written parliamentary statement earlier this week.

“This will help to deliver advanced security capabilities through joint research, co-design, co-development and joint production of defence technology and systems,” the minister said.

Quin, who was recently in India for these discussions, was responding to a question by Opposition Labour Party MP Kevan Jones on the steps planned by the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) to “support India's requirements for new technology”.

It follows an increasing focus on India-UK ties in the defence sector in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with the UK acknowledging the need to actively enhance strategic ties with India and the wider Indo-Pacific region.

“I think the issue for India is there is some level of dependence on Russia, both in terms of its defence relationships but also in terms of its economic relationships. And I think the way forward is for a closer economic and defence relationship with India,” UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss had said in the weeks after the conflict.

The joint statement signed during British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit to India last month has a dedicated section on defence and security as a “key pillar” of the India-UK Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

An “open general export license” to facilitate technology engagement with India and an “open opportunity” for India to participate in the UK’s aviation and naval shipbuilding programmes are among the highlights.

“They [Prime Ministers Modi and Johnson] welcomed the finalisation of the Letter of Arrangement between the UK’s Defence Science & Technology Laboratory and India’s Defence Research & Development Organisation to help deliver advanced security capabilities through joint-research, co-design, co-development and joint production of defence technology and systems – particularly in key and emerging military technologies,” the joint statement reads.

“The leaders noted the importance of robust defence industrial collaboration for manufacturing of defence equipment, systems, spare parts, components, aggregates and other related products and key capabilities, under the Make-in-India program through co-development, indigenisation, transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures for meeting the needs of the Armed Forces of India and other countries,” it adds.