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India seeks UK's expertise for defence manufacturing

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LONDON (PTI): India has sought UK's expertise for manufacturing helicopters, fighter aircraft and submarines as the two countries have concluded the latest round of talks in London as part of the Defence Consultative Group (DCG).

India's Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra led the discussions on the Indian side over meetings with senior British defence officials as well as Defence Minister Sir Michael Fallon with a focus on Make in India initiative.

The latest round of talks as part of DCG, co-chaired by both the countries, was held to further defence collaboration.

"We are very keen that the UK firms participate in Make in India as part of our strategic partnership. We would like UK companies with their expertise in this matter to be fully involved in the various platforms across helicopters, fighter aircraft, submarines etc," Mitra said on Tuesday at the end of his UK visit for the DCG meeting.

He highlighted that Britain's participation need not be limited to just the various equipment platforms as there is also scope for them to get involved in the supply chains.

Dinesh K Patnaik, India’s deputy high commissioner to the UK, said, "The supply chains are critical. Beyond the big deals that are struck, most of the supply chains are here in the UK and many of them are keen to participate.

"That is where the Indian High Commission’s Access India programme comes in, which is aimed at helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make their entry into the Indian market.

The focus remains Make in India."

The latest round of talks took place within the wider Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP), agreed between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and then British Prime Minister David Cameron during Modi's UK visit in November 2015.

India's defence secretary said that the DCG meeting in London was aimed at adding some meat to the India-UK dialogue in time for a meeting between Modi and his British counterpart Theresa May expected next year at the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) summit, to be held in the UK.

"The military to military dialogue has been going very well. There is a wide range of exchange of visits between ministry officials of both countries at the level of the Chiefs of Staff and senior operatives. We have a roadmap going," Mitra explained.

Other issues covered during the latest round of talks included cyber security and sharing of best practice.

There were also some detailed presentations on obsolescence management by the Indian armed forces on UK-origin military equipment such Jaguar fighters, Hawk trainers and Sea King helicopters.

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