India has signed new agreements with Sweden and the UK to strengthen defence co-operation and increase the former country’s military capabilities.
Last week, India announced plans to expand its air force as the first step in a deal that could be worth more than $15bn (~€12.2bn). During a tour of European countries ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed new agreements with the UK and Sweden to strengthen defence co-operation between the nations.
What has India agreed with Sweden?
The agreement with Sweden was reached following a meeting between Modi and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in Stockholm. Following the meeting, Löfven explained to reporters that the new agreement will expand the defence capabilities of both countries through greater collaboration.
He said: “Sweden and India have agreed to work towards a security agreement allowing us to exchange certain types of classified information required to work together on defence materials. This agreement [is] an important step forward to deepen our bilateral cooperation in the defence domain.”
Modi also welcomed the agreement, suggesting that co-operation on the production of defence equipment would be particularly valuable for India. Swedish defence company Saab is one of a number of manufacturers expected to bid on a call India has issued for 110 new combat jets, which will replace its current stock of Soviet-era MiG fighter jets.
What will the agreement with the UK entail?
India has also reached a new co-operation agreement with the UK, in part in response to China’s increasing naval presence and activity in the Pacific Ocean. India is also seeking to benefit from the UK’s expertise in cybersecurity, and expands existing collaborative efforts such as the Ajeya Warrior exercise, which takes place between the two countries every two years.
According to a statement that was issued following a meeting between Modi and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the new agreement will not only strengthen defence co-operation with India, but reinforce security of the whole region.
The statement read: “The Royal Navy [will] work more closely with their Indian counterparts to ensure the safety and prosperity of the Indian Ocean region – tackling piracy and drug trafficking, as well as protecting freedom of navigation rights… The UK already plays an active role in maritime security in this region through counter-terrorism, counter-piracy and maritime security operations because a free and open Indo-Pacific area is in the interests of the UK, India and the international community.”