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IAF chief visits UK to strengthen defence ties

Air Chief Marshal PV Naik. A File Photo.

NEW DELHI (PTI): In a bid to strengthen defence ties and resolve pending issues, Air Chief Marshal P V Naik was on a three day visit to the United Kingdom where he discussed the ongoing military cooperation between the two countries.

During the visit (March 15 to 18), the air chief met British Minister for Defence (Equipment and Support) Quentin Davies and discussed about the military hardware cooperation and other issues, IAF officials said here Monday.

India has received various military equipments from the UK including the Jaguar deep-penetration fighters and the recently purchased Hawk Advanced Jet Trainers (AJTs).

Officials said one aim of the visit was to "resolve pending issues through dialogue and understanding."

The two countries are also likely to have discussed issues pertaining to the purchase of an additional 57 Hawks as there were certain problems between the two sides regarding the price quoted by the UK-based aircraft manufacturer BAE Systems.

India had signed a deal with the UK in 2004 for purchasing 66 Hawks, of which 24 were to be built in Britain and the rest were to be license-produced at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited facilities in Bangalore.

To meets its additional pilot training requirements it has plans of procuring 57 more Hawks.

The UK is also part of the four-country consortium offering the Eurofighter Combat jets to the IAF for its requirement of 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

The two countries will also carry out an air-to-air exercise codenamed 'Indradhanush' in October this year at the Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal.

ACM Naik also met British Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup and had detailed interactions with his British counterpart Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton, officials said.

The air chief also visited Royal Air Force bases at Coningsby, Cranwell and Waddington.

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