Both the countries are deepening their bilateral defence cooperation, with Defence and Security engagements having grown exponentially over the last few years
As the South Korean K-9 Vajra Howitzer Guns roared over the mountains of Eastern Ladakh, challenging the might of Chinese People’s Liberation Army, the South Korean Defence Minister Suh Wook was given a warm reception by the Indian Defence Ministry on March 26, 2021 on the lawns of South Block. In spite of continuing concerns relating to Covid-19 pandemic, the personal visit of Defence Minister of Republic of Korea to New Delhi, explains the importance South Korea attaches to its defence partnership with India. As a leader in cutting edge defence technologies in several defence sectors, South Korea’s cooperative relations with India assumes special significance. The bilateral talks with Indian Defence Minister explored new domains of defence cooperation and avenues to strengthen the long standing bilateral defence partnership.
The bilateral talks with Indian Defence Minister explored new domains of defence cooperation and avenues to strengthen the long standing bilateral defence partnership
Both the countries are deepening their bilateral defence cooperation in the backdrop of elevated special strategic partnership, which was inked in 2015. While South Korea considers India as a key partner in the region, India views South Korea as an important partner under the Act East Policy.
This partnership has been exemplified in the form of K-9 Thunder Guns, which were produced in India and handed over to Indian Army, which were deployed against China on the borders of Ladakh. During the bilateral talks Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh promised to use the model of transfer of technology of K-9 Guns for production in India and of other weapon systems and platforms also. The K-9 Thunder Gun was made in India after technical collaboration from South Korean defence firm Hanwha Defence to Indian private sector giant Larsen & Toubro, which had contracted to produce 100 K-9 Thunder Guns in a facility in Gujarat, with a strike range of 38 kms. The South Korean government facilitated the manufacture of K-9 guns in India in the backdrop of growing security and defence relations with India. The successful deployment of these guns on the Ladakh borders with China has encouraged Indian Army, to consider further orders for K-9 Guns. This is reported to have been discussed during the bilateral meeting of the two defence ministers in New Delhi.
This partnership has been exemplified in the form of K-9 Thunder Guns, which were Made in India after technical collaboration from South Korean defence firm Hanwha Defence to Indian private sector giant Larsen & Toubro
Over the years, India and South Korea have established a relationship of trust, due to which South Korean Defence Minister paid a personal visit to India despite continued concerns relating to Covid-19 pandemic from March 25 to March 27, 2021. The Indian Army Chief had personally inducted last of these K-9 Vajra Guns into the Indian Army, which were despatched to Leh, in early February this year. These were among the first Guns, besides American M777, to be inducted after the Bofors imbroglio, which caused the delay of fresh acquisitions of Guns in the Indian Army for three decades. Indian Army Chief General M M Naravane thanked the Korean government for this kind of strategic cooperation, during the military standoff with China. Interestingly, General Naravane, had paid a significant visit to South Korea in December, 2020. Prior to this Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had visited South Korea in early 2019.
Defence and Security engagements with South Korea have grown exponentially over the last few years and have taken strong roots. During the three day visit of the South Korean Defence Minister Suh Wook both the countries explored new domains of bilateral defence cooperation and avenues to strengthen long standing bilateral defence partnership. During the meeting, both defence ministers acknowledged that the bilateral defence cooperation has broadened significantly in scale and scope across Tri-services as well as agencies dealing with defence technology and industry. Besides, both the countries have found common ground on several multilateral fora and engagements. Rajnath Singh said that meeting between them will give necessary impetus to cooperative relations to take them to the next level. The service to service cooperation is also expanding and the armed forces hope to approach 2021 with renewed confidence.
Both defence ministers acknowledged that the bilateral defence cooperation has broadened significantly in scale and scope across Tri-services as well as agencies dealing with defence technology and industry
Acknowledging the potential of strengthening the defence partnership between the two countries, the Indian delegation included top brass of Indian defence leadership . The Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Karambir Singh, Chief of Army Staff General M M Narawane, Secretary Defence Production Raj Kumar, Chief of DRDO Dr G. Satheesh Reddy formed part of Indian delegation during the talks.
During an interaction with the Indian Industry hosted by FICCI, the Korean Defence minister Suh Wook said that both South Korea and India have agreed to scale up cooperation in commerce as well as defence sector. He said, “The government and companies are proactively looking at defence cooperation and I hope that these industry meeting would be beneficial on affirming India's defence friendly environment. This would be an opportunity for defence bilateral relations to elevate to next level as industry-to-industry interactions between India and Korea are on a rise and both nations have agreed to intensify defence cooperation under co-chaired meeting.”
Attracted by the needs of modernisation program of Indian armed forces, all major Korean defence and shipbuilding companies have shown interest in Indian defence acquisition program
According to Raj Kumar, Secretary Defence Production, “all major Korean defence and ship building companies have shown interest in Indian Defence Acquisition program.” Raj Kumar expressed confidence that defence industry cooperation would be intensified under the Joint Committee Meeting ( JCM). India is looking to elevate defence trade from a traditional buyer-seller mechanism to one that of co-production and co-development. He informed that, “Under the JCM, an industry cooperation sub-group has also been proposed with a purpose to develop sustained dialogue between the defence industry of both the nations. This sub-committee will play a pivotal role in fastening the partnerships between the defence industries in future.” Attracted by the needs of modernisation program of Indian armed forces, all major Korean defence and shipbuilding companies have shown interest in Indian defence acquisition program. Industry to industry interaction between both the countries are on the rise. According to Raj Kumar, “Collaboration of Korean companies with Indian companies has already started carving out success stories and hopeful that more success stories will be emulated in the future.”