Australia-India defence cooperation has been on an upward trajectory in recent years
With defence emerging as a key pillar of the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, the two sides are now exploring ways to strengthen the partnership in co-development and co-production of defence equipment. The issue was discussed during the 8th India-Australia Defence Policy Talks (DPT) held held in Canberra, Australia on July 24-25, 2023.

Both sides reviewed the bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries and explored new initiatives to further strengthen and deepen bilateral defence engagements, India's Ministry of Defence said on Wednesday (July 26, 2023). "The discussions also focused on identifying ways to strengthen partnership in co-development and co-production of defence equipment," the ministry pointed out.

India and Australia reaffirmed their commitment to fully implement the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership established in June 2020, based on mutual trust and understanding, common interests and shared values of democracy and rule of law. Additionally, the Indian side highlighted the potential of the Indian defence industry with capacity and capability to cooperate with Australian Armed forces in its shipbuilding and maintenance plans.

India and Australia’s partnership is based on a shared vision of a free, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific region. The two democracies have a common interest in peace and prosperity of the entire region, the Ministry of Defence noted.

Significantly, the two countries have a 2+2 mechanism at the Ministerial level to facilitate formal discussions on issues of mutual interest. The 8th DPT reviewed the outcomes of maiden 2+2 conducted in September 2021. Both sides agreed for early finalization of a hydrography agreement. The two sides also exchanged views on the geo-political situation, regional and global issues of shared interest, the Ministry of Defence said.

It may be recalled that closer cooperation in defence and security as well as trade and investment was on the agenda when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Australian counterpart Anthony Albanese in Sydney on May 24, 2023. During the meeting, the two leaders also discussed cooperation in mining and critical minerals, which has become an area of focus for India over the past few years.

Earlier, on March 3, 2023, Prime Minister Modi had described defence as an important pillar of the India-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Prime Minister Modi made the remarks after meeting PM Albanese in New Delhi.

Barely a month later, India’s Chief of Army Staff General Manoj Pande proceeded on a four-day visit to Australia for a series of meetings with the country’s top military leadership aimed at boosting defence cooperation between the Armed Forces of the two nations.

Australia-India defence cooperation has been on an upward trajectory with a series of diverse engagements at different levels, in various domains. These include bilateral visits by senior officers, reciprocal courses of instructions and training exercises, among others.

The inaugural joint exercise between army contingents of the two countries, Austra-Hind 23, was held in Rajasthan in November 2022. This saw the participation of all arms and services from contingents of the armies of both the countries. The bilateral exercise will be an annual event that alternates between Australia and India.