A 19-member Indian defence industry delegation is travelling to London for three days from September 11 to enhance B2B engagements and have working group meeting even as the Central government is still trying to allay British concerns over certain aspects of Defence Acquisition Policy (DAP) 2020.

Industry sources aware of the developments told businessline that during the second meeting of UK-India Joint Working Group (JWG), held in March in London, to enhance defence industrial collaboration, some of their companies representatives had flagged DAP issues such as such as on indigenous content under Indian Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured (Indian-IDDM), the most preferred category to process defence procurement. Besides that, they also showed reservation over 49 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in case of IDDM procurements and Strategic Partnership (SP), supposed to be the route for manufacture of large platforms like aircraft, tanks and submarines. This, they were of the view, was the biggest hindrance to investments by British origin original equipment manufacturers.

IP protection

Similarly, their articulation was also around IP protection and “March-in-Rights” of government of India. The UK India Business Council (UKIBC) had submitted “advocacy paper” to Ministry of Defence after the joint working group meeting but a “representation” from them on the same issue, sought by the government, is still to come despite the next joint working group will be held in London again on September 13.

People aware of these negotiations stated that many of their apprehensions are unfounded and the UK industry has been told that countries like France, US and Russia have participated in the defence sector here without much policy hassle, be it on transfer of technology or any other investment aspects fostering self-reliance in military domain. In fact, sources elaborated, MoD’s DDG (Exports) Sanjay Mehrishi assured assistance and advised it would be easier for foreign original equipment manufacturers (FOEMs) to first setup manufacturing in India for their global supply chain and once established, they can consider catering to the Indian demand as well. Some of them, it is learnt, had shown interest in knowing the process for manufacture of 123 mm guns and hovercrafts.

Eleven UK defence and aerospace companies such as BAE Systems and MBDA, have presence here, with Rolls-Royce hunting for a collaboration on jet engine technology, UKIBC Chief Executive Richard McCallum had stated in April while exhibiting keenness in exploring opportunities in Aatmanirbhartha in defence sector here. The Indian industry is looking for opportunities in UK defence supply chain through such openings.

The Indian defence industry delegation -- led by Neeraj Gupta, Chairman, Society for Indian Defence Manufacturer (SIDM) International and Exports Committee and MD of MKU Ltd, will participate in UK Defence & Security Exports International exhibition at London -- have interaction with UK defence minister after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak concludes his G20 summit in Delhi. Other members of the Indian delegation, though does not have big defence companies representatives, are Sachin Agarwal, Chairman SIDM Uttar Pradesh state chapter and CMD of PTC Industries Ltd, Avnish Patnaik, Lead-International, SIDM, Anant Defence Systems Pvt Ltd’s Director Mohan Chetan Dharia and Shanmugam Madhiyan, MD of Aerosky System Pvt Ltd.