The Indo-Pacific partners have committed to building on established mechanisms designed to bolster defence cooperation and improve links between the nations’ industrial bases.
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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles has met with Indian counterpart Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh in New Delhi to review existing defence cooperation activities between the nations, which have ramped up amid growing instability in the Indo-Pacific.
The ministers renewed their commitments to the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, welcoming the “diversity and frequency” of joint defence exercises and exchanges, which they’ve agreed to further strengthen via the India-Australia Mutual Logistics Support Arrangement.
Marles and Singh also committed to enhancing the India-Australia Joint Working Group (JWG) on Defence Research and Materiel Cooperation, which aims to bolster collaboration between the nations’ defence industries.
The JWG is scheduled to meet in Australia later this year to explore opportunities to increase the resilience of supply chains and deliver capabilities to respective defence forces.
Further, the pair welcomed a plan to commence the General Rawat Young Officer Exchange Programme later this year, announced during the virtual summit meeting between former prime minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March.
In light of China and North Korea’s continued violations of international norms, Ministers Marles and Singh reiterated their shared goals of an “open, free, inclusive, prosperous and rules-based Indo Pacific region”.
The meeting between the pair comes just weeks after a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft flew to India for a combined India-Australia maritime surveillance exercise in the Indian Ocean.
The initiative aimed to strengthen operational maritime domain awareness, enhance anti-submarine warfare manoeuvring, and improve interoperability.
Just months earlier, an Indian Navy P-8I aircraft was deployed to the Top End.
The Indian aircraft conducted coordinated exercises alongside a RAAF P-8A Poseidon aircraft from 11-15 April off the coast of Darwin.
The combined training, which marked the first time an Indian P-8I has deployed to Australia outside of a routine military exercise, sought to further strengthen bilateral defence ties between the Quad partners.
Activities included surveillance, anti-submarine warfare and interoperability drills.
India is scheduled to participate in Australia’s Indo Pacific Endeavour exercise in October 2022.
[Related: RAAF P-8A Poseidon deploys to India ]