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India-Saudi Arabia to Deepen Defence Ties

Continuing with the resolve to deepen bilateral ties, India and Saudi Arabia have decided to expand their defence cooperation. The countries are looking at expanding military exchanges and training courses. The sides are also looking to collaborate for industrial and procurement. 

Such closer ties in the defence sphere hint at India’s attempt to forge deeper ties with Gulf countries. 

This was revealed after a meeting between the Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane and Royal Saudi Land Forces Commander Lt-General Fahd Bin Abdullah Mohammed Al-Mutair on 15 February. The two officials had “significant” discussions.

The visit is a maiden visit by a serving Saudi Commander to New Delhi. In December 2020, Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane visited Riyadh for the first time to forge similar cooperation. These mutual visits highlight upward thrusts of the bilateral ties. 

According to a statement by a senior government official, “The bilateral relationship has grown because of common interests in economic prosperity, eliminating the scourge of Terrorism and mitigating the effects of climate change. Defence diplomacy forms one of the major tenets of the overall relationship.”

The visiting official from Riyadh was also briefed about the capabilities of the Indian defence industry. The brief by the Army Design Bureau shared details about indigenous military systems inducted by the Indian armed forces, missiles, drones, helicopters and radio systems used. 

Media reports suggest that India has been in talks with Saudi Arabia and the UAE over the selling of Brahmos missile systems and Akash defence missiles. While Brahmos has a range of target 290 km, the latter has an interception range of 25 km.  

The visiting official was also presented the details about India’s defence ecosystem, and policy initiatives were taken to promote the startup ecosystem. 

In August 2021, the naval forces of the two countries had for the first time engaged in a naval drill called Al Mohed Al Hindi.

Officers from both countries are already getting trained in each other’s military institutes.

Reports suggest that the two sides are also exploring joint land exercises sometime later this year.   

These collaborations could happen as the senior military officials stayed in touch with each other.