A UK trade body has said that it still sees the potential of supplying the Eurofighter to India, which has postponed till the next fiscal its plan to buy 126 fighter planes from France’s Dassault Aviation.
“We are very keen, should the opportunity arise, to offer India a cost effective solution,” Adam Thomas, a senior spokesman for the Defence & Security Organization at the UK Trade and Investment, told PTI at the Singapore Airshow.
Noting that the Indian government was still in discussion with Dassault Aviation, he said, “We respect the Indian system and, if asked, clearly we would be happy to talk to the Indian government.”
The deal for the 126 jets, when concluded, will be the largest ever for combat aircraft.
Mr. Thomas noted that India’s Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) programme is one of the major attractions to woo FDI to the country’s defence sector.
He said UK’s defence industry has welcomed India’s decision to raise FDI in defence to 49 per cent from 26 per cent.
“We hope that there could be more flexibility in the future to make India an attractive partner for inward investment,” he said.
Mr. Thomas expressed the UK’s defence industry’s interest in establishing “strong business relationships” with Indian private and public sectors.
“We have seen quite a capability development in the Indian public and private sectors. We have also seen how the electronics industry has developed not only to provide for the India armed forces but also holds the potential of exporting equipment,” said Mr. Thomas, who was part of the UK delegation at Defexpo held in New Delhi earlier this month.
“We want to find how we can get British companies to work with the Indians to jointly develop equipment that can be used not only by the Indian armed forces, but perhaps the UK armed forces and export to a third market,” he said.
“We see Indian companies as joint venture partners. We see supplying to the Indian market around a theme of partnership,” said Mr. Thomas, noting that both the UK and Indian armed forces were undergoing transformations.
The UK trade and investment agency sees British companies work with the Indian defence sector on a range of products from border security, protection of coastline and airport security with the development of new airports and Unmanned Aerial Systems.
Meanwhile, Pearson Engineering is looking to further increase its presence in the Indian defence market. The company manufactures and supplies specific defence equipment mounted on Indian tanks.
Among the new likely supplies is the superlight weight roller, Barbadian, which is put ahead of vehicles to detect bombs.