Webinar: UK-India Partnerships for India’s Future Aerospace and Defence Platforms

By Emma Lynch

On 20 July, the UK India Business Council was delighted to participate in the virtual Farnborough International Airshow. UKIBC’s Aerospace & Defence Industry Group partnered with ADS to organise a virtual panel discussion around how to build an integrated UK-India partnership for India’s future aerospace and defence platforms.

Ian Draper, Industrial Capability Lead of UK Defence & Security Exports moderated the discussion with insights shared by Brig Gavin Thompson, UK Defence Adviser in New Delhi; Dr V Madhusudana Rao, Project Director-LCA AirForce Mk2; Dr Ashis Kumar Ghosh, SC H, Project Director for AMCA programme; S Rangarajan, CEO of Data Patterns; Kishore Jayaraman, President of South Asia at Rolls-Royce; Nik Khanna, Managing Director at BAE Systems; and George Kyriakides, Director of Industrial Cooperation at MBDA.

Collaboration and opportunities were two heavily used terms throughout the discussion. As both the UK and India have seen changes in the past few years, opportunities also change. There is a need for active participation and partnerships in the UK and India. With its separation from the EU this year, it is more important now than ever for the UK to push its national partnerships together.

In terms of partnerships, India is one of the UK’s top national partnerships. More recently, the UK has made a conscious effort to publicise its desire to work more closely with India. This past February, for example, the UK Minister of Defence coordinated the largest delegation to India to date. It has been 18 months since the deck MoU was signed, and although no big announcements have been made, those involved have been building and preparing for real technical collaborative opportunities in the strategic capabilities area and are on the edge of big announcements.

Not only is there a push to make in India, there is also a push to create genuine opportunities in India. There are numerous conversations taking place about strategic capabilities in a variety of sectors, conversations which are new in the last 12 months.

The common theme expressed among the speakers was the need to establish a G2G mechanism between the UK and Indian Governments. A G2G agreement would bring tremendous capability to the variety of programmes discussed such as those in aerospace and defence, manufacturing, and multinational collaborations.

ADA indicated that they are happy for detailed discussion with the UK, agreeing that high-tech areas of partnership should be explored under the G2G umbrella. ADA also presented a few potential areas for collaboration with UK industry on its indigenous platforms.

In a post COVID-19 world, globalisation is going to continue but at a different pace. There is a new need for security around supply chains, services, capabilities, and IP. The future is going to look at different capabilities in technology and different mechanisms in sustainability. As expected, politics will also continue to have relevant play. A strong G2G establishment between the UK and India will better allow and strengthen co designing, co-developing, and co creation between the two nations.

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