The UK Ministry of Defence has confirmed that it will deploy the nation’s high readiness Littoral Response Group and Carrier Strike Group to the Indian Ocean, following a meeting between the British and Indian defence ministers.
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Under the agreement, the Littoral Response Group will deploy to the region in 2024 and the Carrier Strike Group in 2025 for joint training and operations alongside Indian counterparts.
The announcement was made during a meeting between the Indian and British defence ministers in January, which marked the first visit of an Indian Defence Minister to the UK in over 20 years.
The pair also committed to additional knowledge sharing and instructor exchanges between the two counties, and also undertake a major military exercise between the two nations before 2030.
According to the MOD, the pair also agreed to launch several new endeavours, including:
- Defence Partnership India – a new office to enhance collaboration between the two nations.
- Expansive research and development partnerships to develop next-generation capabilities.
- A reinforced logistics exchange agreement to enhance provision of logistics support, supplies, and services between the two militaries.
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps explained that the two nations remained committed to a free Indo-Pacific.
“There is absolutely no question that the world is becoming increasingly contested, so it’s vital that we continue to build on our strategic relationships with key partners like India,” Secretary Shapps explained.
“Together, we share the same security challenges and are steadfast on our commitment to maintaining a free and prosperous Indo-Pacific.
“It is clear that this relationship is going from strength-to-strength, but we must continue to work hand-in-hand to uphold global security in light of threats and challenges that seek to destabilise and damage us.”
The UK Ministry of Defence detailed that the announcement underscores growing levels of military cooperation between Britain and India.
The announcement comes as the US and the UK commenced bombing operations against Houthi targets in Yemen.
On 12 January, the Pentagon confirmed that US naval forces in the Red Sea, supported by the Royal Navy, launched a series of strikes against Houthi-held positions, warehouses, training infrastructure, and missile launch sites across Yemen.
Air strikes have been reported at Yemeni cities including Sana'a, Hodeidah, Saada, Dhamar, Taiz, and Zabid.
The strikes come following weeks of repeated aggression, culminating in 27 attacks against commercial shipping traversing the Red Sea by the Iranian-backed Houthi insurgent group since November 2023, which has launched a series of anti-ship cruise and ballistic missiles, unmanned aerial drones, and speedboat attacks against the globally sensitive shipping lane.