NEW DELHI: Enhancing their strategic relationship, India and the UK are planning to increase the joint training between their navies through carrier battle group operations. The UK has also offered to provide training to other Indian forces, including the army, which can be useful to India in its “conflict” at the borders. The UK’s Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Defence, Stephen Lovegrove, in an exclusive interaction with ET said when he met his counterpart, Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, he discussed issues on training of Indian forces and carrier battle groups.
A carrier battle group consists of an aircraft carrier and its escorts, which together define the group. Without identifying any country, Lovegrove, who was on a visit to India last week, also said that the training being offered can be used in conflicts that India is involved in.
Lovegrove explained that Indian Navy and the Royal Navy are discussing cooperation on carrier battle groups. This is a prelude to the first deployment of UK’s latest aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, in the Strait of Malacca.
“A new aircraft carrier the QueenElizabeth is in the US doing its sea trials and is having the first F-35s fly from it. That exemplifies what we are trying to achieve with India. Its first operational deployment will be through the Strait of Malacca in 2021,” he said.
Explaining the things being done with the Indian Navy, Lovegrove said, “I think the most relevant item is comparing practices and techniques of carrier battle groups, which will be happening when our new carrier (Queen Elizabeth) is fully operational… The two navies are discussing those types of cooperation on carrier battle groups.”
On the UK playing a greater role in the Indian Ocean Region, he said, “We have enduring interests in the region. We want to continue to play our part in maintaining security here…The Queen Elizabeth will also represent some of our commitment to our trading relations. Its important for us that the Indian Ocean and South China Sea remain open to trade, navigation.”
He added, “We also know that you have conflicts on your borders, which we want to assist in training some of your troops with. So we do some of that activity.”
Lovegrove added that he had discussed with Mitra on training of forces such as the Royal Marines training their equivalent forces on how to operate in contested environments, sea boarding techniques and interdiction.
Meanwhile, Lovegrove also said that the Indian Air Force has shown interest in knowing more about the Advanced Hawk, the combat version of the Hawk jets, which are used for training pilots of the IAF and navy.”