Closer UK-India defense cooperation bears separate calculations


China Military Online
Li Jiayao
2021-05-14 00:13:14

By Zhang Shaolin


The UK and India recently reached a major agreement to upgrade their bilateral relationship to a "comprehensive strategic partnership," according to Indian media reports. The two sides will deepen defense and security cooperation and proposed joint research and development of next-generation fighter jets for the first time. This has attracted widespread attention.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a 10-year road map when they reached cooperation between the two countries. The two countries will further deepen their defense and security cooperation under the framework of the UK-India defense and international security partnership, especially in key military technologies such as next-generation fighter jets, ship propulsion systems, and complex weapons and equipment. The UK clearly stated its support for India’s Tejas LCA Mk2 fighter jet project. This is the first time that high-level leaders from the two countries have agreed on the joint development of a new fighter jet.

印度总理莫迪与英国首相约翰逊在达成两国合作时,公布了一份为期10年的路线图,表示两国将在英印防务和国际安全伙伴关系框架下进一步深化防务安全合作,特别是在下一代战斗机、舰船推进系统和复杂武器装备等关键军事技术方面。特别是在“光辉”LCA Mk2战斗机项目上,英国明确表态支持印度,这是英印高层首次就联合研制新型战斗机达成协议。

However, the UK and India have their own plans for deepening defense and security cooperation. For India, the signing of the agreement this time is more out of consideration for enhancing its own military strength and expanding its regional influence. On the one hand, the Asia-Pacific region is becoming the focus of global geopolitics and geoeconomics. India is trying to form a regional deterrence by enhancing its military strength. On the other hand, India's defense industry is backward, and its military equipment demand is overly dependent on procurement. Five of the eight major purchases listed by the Indian Ministry of Defense in 2021 depend on imports. For example, India's Tejas LCA Mk1 fighter jets use American or British aero engines. India chose to work with the UK because it hopes to use the technical strength of the UK to accelerate the process of localization of weapons and equipment.

英印深化防务安全合作各有各的盘算。对于印度来说,此次签署协议,更多是出于提升自身军事实力和扩大地区影响力的考量。一方面,当前亚太地区正成为全球地缘政治和地缘经济的焦点,印度企图通过提升军事实力形成地区威慑。另一方面,印度国防工业落后,其军事装备需求过度依赖采购。2021年印度国防部列出的8项重大采购中有5项依靠进口。如印度“光辉”LCA Mk1战斗机要采用美国或英国的航空发动机。印度选择和英国合作,希望借助英国的技术力量,加速武器装备国产化进程。

As an extraterritorial country, the UK's eagerness to deploy in the Asia-Pacific region has other intentions. On the one hand, the UK sees India as a powerful force that can be relied upon to enter the Asia-Pacific region. This cooperation is based on the premise of leading the path of India's military development and borrowing India's hands to intervene in Indo-Pacific affairs deeply. It aims to pave the way for creating an "Indo-Pacific Order" under the leadership of the UK and the realization of the goal of "Global Britain". On the other hand, after the Brexit, EU countries represented by France and Germany are no longer willing to carry out in-depth cooperation with the UK. At the same time, the US wants independent research and development. Therefore, the UK urgently needs allies. From the perspective of the UK, choosing to work with India means that the UK takes the lead in the development of next-generation fighter jets while obtains financial support from India.


It can be said that the defense cooperation between the UK and India, based on their respective national interests, cannot go beyond the scope of "strategic mutual utilization" and is far from a real security alliance.


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