The UK ship, HMS Queen Elizabeth-led Carrier Strike Group’s arrival in Mumbai is a sign of UK’s growing defence and maritime cooperation with India, which British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Saturday (October 23) described as her country’s “Indo-Pacific tilt in action”.
Truss, who is on an India tour to bolster strategic and trade ties between the two countries, asserted that India was a key part of the UK’s Indo-Pacific strategy and they wanted stronger security and defence links with India.
The HMS Queen Elizabeth ship, which is said to be a symbol of the UK’s top-end defence capability, will lead the Carrier Strike Group in the most “demanding exercise ever” undertaken between the UK and India, involving all three military services.
This is a true symbol of Global Britain, working closely with like-minded partners like India, Truss said.
The Carrier Strike Group is described as the largest concentration of maritime and air power to sail from the UK in a generation.
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Its Mumbai port stop follows two-day maritime exercises in the Bay of Bengal with the Indian Navy in July and two days of flying exercises with the Indian Air Force this week.
Truss wants to build a network of liberty around the globe and her two-day visit to India is aimed at taking forward the joint work agreed in the Roadmap 2030 between Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi earlier this year, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO).
“Closer defence and security partnerships between the UK and India underpin deeper economic ties and make both countries, as well as the wider region, safer,” she said.
“We need to protect our sea and trade routes and, operating from a position of strength, be hard-headed in defending our interests and challenging unfair practices,” she said.
Truss will take a tour of the HMS Queen Elizabeth off Mumbai port and observe live exercises involving UK and US F35B fighter jets.
She will also visit the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai and pay her tributes to those killed in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks.
On Saturday evening, the British minister will host leaders in business, education, film, sports and politics on the HMS Defender, a Type 45 Destroyer, to showcase the UK’s world-leading tech and innovation in defence, healthcare, science and climate.
The UK’s Chief of Defence Staff, Sir Nick Carter, will also be part of the CSG’s action in Mumbai. Earlier, he had met his Indian counterpart General Bipin Rawat in Delhi to discuss regional security.