Centre for Research on Globalisation
INDIA and Pakistan have bought some of Britain’s most combat-proven weapon systems, including fighter aircraft and warships. India has bought Harriers, Jaguar fighter-bombers, Sea King helicopters and, in the 1980s, purchased the Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier, HMS Hermes, which served in the 1982 Falklands War. The carrier, which carries British-built Sea Harriers, was renamed Viraat.
The Indian Navy has bought other second-hand warships from Britain, including Leander-class frigates. In 1993 Pakistan bought six Amazon-class frigates from Britain and also has Leander-class frigates.
Yet at present neither country is a leading defence customer for Britain. Recently British defence companies have been granted licences to sell arms to India to the value of £65 million and to Pakistan £6 million. For a country that sold arms worth £4.7 billion in the past 12 months, keeping around 350,000 defence workers in employment, India and Pakistan represent a tiny proportion of the market.
The approved sales to India involved 700 separate licences, indicating that each contract was of small value — unlike the potential deal involving the sale of 66 BAE Systems Hawk jet trainers for £1 billion, which is still being negotiated.
Contracts signed in the past two years for India have included components for air-to-surface missiles, parts for aircraft machineguns and armoured personnel carriers and components for combat helicopters, military communications and riot control equipment. The orders for Pakistan have included components for combat helicopters and spare parts for frigates, military training aircraft and utility vehicles.
One of the biggest ongoing contracts with India involves the manufacture under licence of Jaguar ground-attack aircraft. Throughout the 1990s, BAE Systems, formerly British Aerospace, licensed the production of 126 Jaguars in India by Hindustan Aeronautics.
Yesterday, as Whitehall appeared to be confused about the implications of the possible sale of Hawk jet trainers to India, Richard Bingley, of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade lobby group, said: “It seems somewhat farcical to despatch the Foreign Secretary to the Asian subcontinent to promote peace while continuing to arm the region with UK defence exports.”
Copyright © The Times 2002. For fair use only
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