As part of government’s `Act East Policy’ defence minister Rajnath Singh is heading to Japan and South Korea, the focus will be on intensifying defence cooperation and inviting their companies to form joint ventures in the defence sector.
He will be visiting Japan from Sept 2-3 before heading to South Korea from Sept 5-6 for a bilateral visit.
Besides calling on the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Singh will be leading a high-level official delegation for co-chairing the Annual Defence Ministerial Dialogue with his counterpart, Takeshi Iwaya, Minister of Defence of Japan.
The main aim of the ministerial dialogue is to for further strengthening the Special Strategic and Global Partnership between the two countries and will also include wide-ranging discussions to enhance the bilateral defence and security engagements.
Highly placed sources also confirmed to Financial Express Online that this visit is also happening ahead of India- Japan Annual Summit later this year. Later this year, the first ever 2+2 Ministerial Meeting is expected to happen, a decision to have this dialogue was taken in 2018.
Since both countries are keen to expand their bilateral strategic partnership in view of China’s assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region, on the agenda of talks, will also be the Indo-Pacific Region, and Maritime Security.
Also, the two ministers will discuss the $1.65 billion deal ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious aircraft, which was pushed back due to price issues. With the roles of both the Indian Navy and the Coast Guard expanding, these amphibious aircraft will add to the strength of these services and will be used for Search and Rescue aircraft (SAR) operations. These aircraft are critical as they can be deployed in the island territories, for both operational logistics as well as providing support to the ships in the water. The Japanese company has already offered to manufacture the aircraft in India with complete technology transfer (ToT) and on completion, the Indian order is also willing to export to third countries.
As reported by Financial Express Online, on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka this summer, at a trilateral meeting between Japan, the US and India (JAI) the Indo-Pacific initiative was discussed.
Negotiations on the Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA) have already started between India and Japan. Once this agreement is inked it would give access to the Indian Forces and the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) to naval bases for logistical support.
During his South Korea visit, the defence minister will call on Prime Minister Lee Nak – Yon, and have a bilateral dialogue with Jeong Kyeong - Doo, Minister of National Defence in Seoul.
According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), aiming to encourage India-South Korea Defence Industry Cooperation there will be a CEO's Forum meeting which will be followed by a Business-to-Government (B2G).
Financial Express Online was the first to report on the visit of the defence minister to South Korea.
The two countries in 2018 had agreed to further enhance the military ties between the countries as well as carry out joint exercises and training. South Korean companies are keen to collaborate with Indian defence companies and are open to transfer technology for military equipment to be built in India under the Make in India initiative.
To secure the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) in the Indian Ocean, South Korea has expressed keenness on joining hands with India. Both countries are also working on dates for the first-ever 2+2 Dialogue at the Secretarial level.
The Indian Army is already using K9 Vajra 155mm/52 calibre guns which came from Semi Knocked down (SKD) state from Hanwha Techwin of South Korea. These were assembled at the L&T facility in India.
Also, several South Korean companies including Hanwha Defence, Hyundai Rotem, Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., LIG Nex1, DACC Carbon Company have been pitching and participating in various defence projects in the country including shipbuilding, trainer aircraft and armoured vehicles for the Indian Army.
Highly placed sources confirmed that “These are at different levels and we are hoping for a positive response.”