UK offers India finance for buying Hawk jets: New Delhi not sure about deal - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 30 January 2018

UK offers India finance for buying Hawk jets: New Delhi not sure about deal

London offers India financing to get past capital budget shortfall in landing 20-aircraft deal for IAF aerobatics team

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 31st Jan 18

With the proposed purchase of 20 Hawk trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF) stalled for years, apparently because of a shortfall of money, British vendor BAE Systems and the UK government have offered New Delhi a line of funding to land a contract for the aircraft, worth an estimated Rs 2,000-2,500 crore (Rs 20-25 billion).

Over the preceding decades, New Delhi has shied away from defence aid, choosing to pay itself for weaponry and defence equipment needed for national defence. In parliament, the government has stated it is currently a net donor of foreign aid, and that “aid from the UK has fallen steadily from an inflow of Rs 1,710 crore in 2008-09 to a net outflow of 25 lakhs to the UK in 2016-17.”

But now, with numerous defence purchases held up by capital budget shortfalls, and thousands of crores in unspent money reappropriated each year from the defence ministry, London has proposed to finance a Hawk deal through the UK Export Finance organisation.

UK Export Finance says on its website that its mission is “to ensure no viable UK export fails for lack of finance or insurance, while operating at no net cost to the taxpayer.”

Under its Direct Lending Facility, UK Export Finance provides loans up to 3 billion pounds to overseas buyers, enabling them to purchase capital goods from UK exporters and, thereby, support employment in the UK. Over the last five years, UKEF has provided 14 billion pounds in support for US exporters.

The UK Export Finance rules permit financing up to 85 per cent of the cost of a procurement. However, it is not clear how much finance was offered in the proposal that was made in a bi-annual dialogue between the two defence ministries.

Defence ministry sources say New Delhi has not yet accepted the offer.

India has earlier signed two contracts with BAE Systems for Hawk trainers: Batch 1 was for 66 trainers in 2004; and Batch 2 for 57 trainers was signed in 2008.

Held up for several years now is Batch 3, for 20 aircraft to equip the IAF’s Surya Kiran aerobatics team.

The British High Commission declined to confirm this development. However, David Woolf, who oversees defence exports for the High Commission in New Delhi stated: “If the Indian government was interested in financing the purchase of Hawk trainers, the UK government would be happy to explore the possibility of financing it through the United Kingdom Export Finance organisation.”

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which would build the 20 Hawks in Bengaluru, BAE Systems, which is the primary vendor, and the defence ministry declined to comment.

India’s defence cooperation with the UK, while not as intense as with the US, has grown steadily. In April, the UK Secretary of State for Defence Sir Michael Fallon visited India for the India-UK Strategic Defence Dialogue, which facilitates cooperation between the two militaries and defence industries.

In November 2015, the two countries agreed on a Defence and International Security Partnership (DISP). New Delhi and London also cooperate in several Defence Consultative Groups (DCGs).

BAE Systems, which features each year amongst the world’s five biggest defence firms, has done good business in India. Besides the sale of 123 Hawks, the US arm of the company, which is called BAE Inc., bagged a $737 million (Rs 4,700 crore) contract in November 2016 for supplying 145 ultralight M-777 howitzers to the army.


  1. why... old... outdated... design... like f16... if not older...

  2. India’s defence cooperation with the UK, while not as intense as with the US, has grown steadily.
    No surprise there. With defence purchases for a country like India, geopolitics matters more than financing. UK has almost nothing to offer to India for its geopolitical and security needs. In fact, that India chose to purchase UK-origin BAE manufactured M777 Howitzers under FMS route from US, says volumes about the impact of geopolitics. And who can forget UK's tame acquiescence to US led sanctions that resulted in the UK withholding supply of spares to Sea Harrier jets and Sea King Helicopters. A direct line to the US allows India to shape UK's policies towards it. Consequently, there is no reason for India to indulge the UK.

    1. Margaret Thatcher sold us the westland helicopters as the factory was in closure mode....election time PM RAJIV bailed her out by buying UK scrap

  3. IAF already have Hawk-i don't see any requirement for advanced hawks for now. Beside can't HTT-40 used for aerobatic team??

  4. in my opinion all deals with uk entities must be cautiously progressed.
    beware of canny british !!!

    also britain is becoming a hub of anti india activities, member of house of lords was involved in protests outside indian high commision on 26 Jan 2018.

    we need to send a message to british that they stop anti india activities on their soil , what is point of having def deals and why should we buy from them!!!

    they would gain £ and employment if we do deals with them

  5. The LCA SOP18 will be much better in this role than the Hawk. In this role, the hawk will be a a complete tamasha kartab aircraft while the LCA SOP18 will be a potent mid range fighter. Why doesnt the MOD order an additional 20 airframes for the Surya Kirans and have HAL set up another line for manufacture?

  6. So India will take a loan to buy 20 British Hawk aircraft to use them to promote Hawks and Bitish aviation industry in all air shows?? Americans use F-16 and F-18 in their aerobatics teams. Russians use Sukhois. Even Chinese use their J-10s. All of them promote the best their defence aviation industry can produce.
    But, instead of raising a team of LCA Tejas to promote Indian industry, the great Indian Air Force will take loan to buy British aircraft ?? Why don’t Britons give them free, in any case, they get free publicity !!

  7. why is 20 aircrafts req for aerobatics? least priority item and the line is anyway closed now...better HAL focus on LCA and LCA alone

  8. Good progress. This should not delay induction of LCH. Let it be with imported FCS till local one is certified.
    Hope the anti tank and anti bunker missiles are selected & inducted quickly too.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  10. Although less extensive than with the US, India and the UK have progressively increased their defence collaboration. For the India-UK Strategic Defence Dialogue, which promotes collaboration between the two military and defence industries, Sir Michael Fallon, the UK's Secretary of State for Defence, travelled to India in April.


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