India-Saudi defence ties get stronger


The Minister of State for Defence and Tourism, Shri Ajay Bhatt visited the World Defence Show (WDS) 2024 at Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia on February 06, 2024.

India and Saudi Arabia, which have enjoyed close relations for centuries, are taking their ties to a new level by entering into agreements on defence and holding joint military exercises. A USD 225-million deal for supply of artillery ammunition by India is a major landmark in this process

India and Saudi Arabia, two nations with age-old ties, have in recent years expanded their cooperation into the defence sector. Among the latest developments in this regard is a major agreement worth US Dollars (USD) 225 million under which India will supply ammunition to Saudi Arabia.

The deal is among the biggest defence export orders by India and follows a recent series of bilateral military exercises between both countries, including ‘Sada Tanseeq’ with Army’s infantry and ‘Desert Cyclone’ with Special Forces of both nations.

The agreement was signed by India’s Ministry of Defence with Nadrah Company of Saudi Arabia for supplying artillery ammunition to Saudi Arabia. The event was attended by His Excellency Ahmad Abdulaziz Al-Ohali, Governor of the General Authority of Military Industries, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Ajay Bhatt, India’s Minister of State for Defence.

As part of the agreement, MIL (Munitions India Limited) will supply artillery ammunition for Saudi Arabia through its partner Nadrah Company.  Moreover, MIL is developing India’s first 155 smart ammunition with Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT-M). The ammunition is similar to the US M982 Excalibur, which India also uses in its M777 UltraLight howitzer. Munitions India Limited is among India’s top defence public sector enterprises.

Another event highlighting the growing defence ties between India and Saudi Arabia was the visit of Minister Ajay Bhatt to Riyadh as head of the Indian delegation for the World Defence Show (WDS) 2024. The five-day event showcased the latest advancements in defence technology and served as a vital platform for international collaboration among the participating companies. On behalf of the Government of India, the Minister of State for Defence extended his greetings to the leadership of Saudi Arabia for hosting the impressive event.

During his visit to Saudi Arabia, the Indian Minister held a meeting with the Defence Minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, on the sidelines of the show. Both leaders discussed various aspects of bilateral defence cooperation. Ajay Bhatt also engaged in discussions with the Assistant Minister of Defence of Saudi Arabia, Dr Khaled Al-Bayari. This meeting explored ways to further strengthen the long-standing and multi-faceted defence cooperation between the two countries. The discussions dwelt on avenues for collaboration in areas of mutual interest, including increasing the scope of joint training exercises, technology transfer and exchange of expertise.

Yet another meeting of the Indian Minister was with the Governor of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) Ahmad Abdulaziz Al-Ohali. They discussed the way ahead towards collaborating in varied areas of defence production, Research & Development and niche technologies. Ajay Bhatt also visited the pavilion of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) on the sidelines of WDS 2024.

During all the discussions, dignitaries of India and Saudi Arabia shared a deep understanding of the evolving security landscape and resolved to increase bilateral defence cooperation in multifarious sectors while also recognising the mutual benefits of a strong partnership in safeguarding regional security.

Ajay Bhatt expressed confidence that the India-Saudi Arabia partnership will continue to grow from strength to strength, contributing significantly to regional stability and global security.

The Minister also interacted with the representatives of Indian defence companies participating in the Defence Show and congratulated them for their impressive cutting-edge technologies and innovative solutions. The participation by Indian defence companies will not only contribute towards an increase in footprint but further develop the defence industry in both countries by forming lasting partnerships, he said.

Ajay Bhatt witnessed the signing of the MoU between Munitions India Limited and its local partner on the sidelines of WDS 2024. Similarly, he attended a business networking event with leading Indian and Saudi business personalities in Saudi Arabia.

India’s ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ and Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ are national programmes that can be mutually beneficial to both sides. Both initiatives prioritise technological advancements, indigenous capabilities and knowledge sharing. As highlighted by both sides, there is an immense potential for collaboration in these areas particularly in co-development and joint production of defence technologies.

Indian authorities said that the Minister’s visit has reaffirmed the inherent strength of bilateral ties, opened new avenues for cooperation and solidified shared commitments towards a safer and prosperous future.

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