Defence Minister Rajnath Singh engaged in discussions with his Australian counterpart, Richard Marles, on November 20, emphasizing the importance of a robust bilateral defence partnership for the security of the Indo-Pacific region. Both ministers agreed that deepening cooperation in the defence industry and research sectors would further enhance the already strong relationship between the two nations.
Potential areas of collaboration discussed included shipbuilding, ship repair, maintenance, and aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO). Singh suggested that focusing on these areas could significantly contribute to the strengthening of bilateral ties. The leaders congratulated each other on the successful conduct of the multilateral exercise ‘Malabar’ by Australia in August, with Singh acknowledging Marles’ role as the Australian Deputy Prime Minister.
In a joint statement, both ministers underscored the importance of increasing cooperation in information exchange and maritime domain awareness. They expressed satisfaction with the growing military-to-military cooperation, including joint exercises, exchanges, and institutional dialogues. The discussions also touched on advanced stages of implementing arrangements for Hydrography Cooperation and cooperation in air-to-air refuelling.
Singh highlighted the potential for collaboration in niche training areas such as artificial intelligence, anti-submarine and anti-drone warfare, and the cyber domain. The ministers also explored the possibility of joint research in underwater technologies and discussed cooperation between defence start-ups from both countries to address common challenges.
The Quad, a coalition comprising the US, Japan, Australia, and India, aims to promote a free, open, and inclusive Indo-Pacific. Singh and Marles concurred that a robust India-Australia defence partnership would not only benefit the two countries but also contribute to the overall security of the Indo-Pacific region. The discussions reinforce the commitment of both nations to strengthening ties and fostering collaboration in the defence sector.