Ukraine War: Opportunity for Defence Industry
STORIES, ANALYSES, EXPERT VIEWS
The war in Ukraine, is changing and accelerating the breakdown of familiar geopolitical antinomies, such as Europe and Asia, writes C Raja Mohan (senior fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute in Delhi and a contributing editor on international affairs for The Indian Express). “Nothing illustrates the new landscape more powerfully than South Korea’s emergence as a major supplier of arms to Europe, which is at war with itself.”
Asian powers contributing to European security
Korea’s rise in the European theatre, says Mohan “highlights two important new strategic trends. One, Asia has long ceased to be a passive theatre for rivalry among the Western powers. We are now beginning to see Asian powers contribute to European security. No wonder, the trans-Atlantic military alliance NATO is stepping up its engagement with Asian powers……
“Two of Beijing’s most important neighbours and economic partners — South Korea and Japan — are not only bringing NATO into Asia, but also taking Asia to NATO’s frontlines with Russia.”
Second, writes Mohan “the idea that Europe and Asia are separate strategic theatres is becoming difficult to sustain….” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Seoul that European and Asian security are deeply interconnected. And that NATO and Asia can help each other in dealing with the dangers from Russia and China.
Even as Korean arms sales to Europe are surging, “Moscow’s neighbours to the West, which have long memories of Russian expansionism, are also arming themselves with new weapons. The Western and Russian arms industries are not geared to cope with the massive demand.”
And “Pakistan is transferring ammunition to Ukraine as part of a major diplomatic effort to reset relations with the US……”
India’s increasing defence exports
India too is eager to export arms and there has been some progress in recent months. The export of Brahmos to the Philippines last year has been a major milestone in the country’s evolution as an arms producer. The largest destination for Indian arms exports, writes Mohan “is not the developing world, but the US. That has largely come from the Indian supply sub-assemblies to US weapons systems.”
There was much media speculation that India’s HAL has been close to clinching the contracts in Malaysia and Egypt for its Tejas fighters. In both places, the fighter and trainer aircraft built by Korea Aircraft Industries won the competition.
“For India, which is coping with the Chinese military challenge on its borders as well as in its waters as well as reducing its dependence on Russian weapons, the new and dynamic defence engagement between Europe and Asia opens up multiple opportunities. This includes the possibilities for modernising its rusty defence industrial base in partnership with friendly states.”
India’s recent agreement with the US on expanding joint defence production and technology, concludes Mohan “should be a precursor to a wider range of agreements with its European and Asian partners to transform India’s defence production and enhance its arms exports.”