London: UK will seek to sell 57 more Hawk
Jet trainers to India in a deal worth a million pounds during
David Cameron`s first ever visit to New Delhi after taking
over as Prime Minister next week.
The 57 trainers will be in addition to the 66 fighters
already contracted for by the British aerospace company BAE.
Cameron is leading a clutch of cabinet ministers, who
are among a 90-strong delegation, on a trade mission to India.
According to the Financial Times, defence exports will
be one of the most concrete and contentious manifestations of
the "special partnership" Cameron wants to forge with a rising
power, which he feels Britain has neglected for too long.
According to The Times, Cameron will lead the big
delegation to showcase his "commercially based foreign policy
with a 1 billion pounds defence deal".
The prime minister is to travel with seven cabinet
ministers, including the foreign secretary, chancellor and
business secretary, in an effort to revitalise ties with New
Delhi and to generate business in the insurance, financial
services and technology sectors.
Cameron`s team will also seek to press British
interests in India`s USD 11 billion (7.1 bn pounds)
126-aircraft fighter procurement contest.
Six manufacturers are in the running for the lucrative
deal with EADS, the consortium that includes BAE Systems,
offering the Eurofighter Typhoon jet.
The most immediate big deals, the paper said, may come
BAE hopes to sign a deal worth up to 500 million
pounds to supply 57 more Hawk trainer jets, building on an
established partnership with state-run Hindustan Aeronautics
India ordered 66 Hawk jets from BAE in 2004 at 1
billion pounds cost.
All the aircraft in the follow-up deal, if achieved,
are likely to be built by HAL.
The model for technology transfer and joint
manufacturing could also be extended to UK aircraft carriers
Other potential defence equipment offers on the
British stall include the Type-26 frigate, the "future surface
combatant", which BAE Systems would seek to sell in "modular
form" once its design is complete.
The UK company has been seeking shipbuilding
opportunities as India`s navy has sought to expand its fleet
from its own dockyards rather than buying warships from other
navies, the report said.
The BAE already has an armoured vehicle and artillery
joint venture with truck maker Mahindra & Mahindra.
No 10 is holding an event in Bengaluru where the
countries` best computer programmes will pit their wits
against each other to build new applications. The aim is to
illustrate the potential for collaboration.
The Times report said "BAE is hoping to win contracts
for the Euro-fighter Typhoon jet, howitzers and armoured
vehicles. Rolls-Royce is looking to work on India`s civil
Sir John Banham, the chairman of Johnson Mathey, said
there was "huge scope" for British businesses to help to meet
India`s need for cleaner, cheaper energy.
It is expected that leading British universities will
agree to develop research collaborations with Indian
In an editorial ahead of Cameron`s upcoming India
visit, The Daily Telegraph said Britain must forge a new
relationship with India and contended that UK suffered because
the last government did not recognise India`s strategic role.
"David Cameron`s trip to India is no ordinary visit,"
The paper noted at the same time that it would be
wrong to assume that no one else has woken up to India`s
"US President Barack Obama and French President
Nicolas Sarkozy will visit the subcontinent this year to
foster their own new relationships," it said.
Referring to the root of this global interest, the
editorial said, "(it is) simple enough: while the British
economy contracted by 4.9 per cent in 2009, the Indian economy
grew by 7.4 per cent. India, in other words, is on the way
It said the country may have a vast and impoverished
rural population, but it also has an urban middle class which
is expanding dramatically.
"This momentum could soon turn the nation into Asia`s
wealth-creating powerhouse," it said, noting that trade
between Britain and India is already on its way to reach the
30 billion pounds figure by 2015.
It claimed that Britain suffered because the last
government did not recognise India`s strategic role.
"Labour did little to slow the decline in relations
between India and Britain. This was bad news for Britain`s
standing in Asia.
"But India must share the blame, too. The country`s
creaking infrastructure is not helped by an overbearing
bureaucracy, nor by endemic low-level corruption," it said.
Foreign operators, it added, are excluded from serious
involvement in many sectors - including banking, insurance,
retail and legal services.
Cameron would like to encourage defence sales, but at
the moment Indian law is standing in the way.
It said that Britain`s ability to forge a new special
relationship requires free trade.
"This important trip should be applauded. The Prime
Minister recognises that we must look beyond North America and
Europe to the Bric emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India
and China - to sustain Britain`s influence in a globalised
"Clearly, the Government sees India as Britain`s best
bet. Let`s hope we get something in return," it said.