Defence Engagement Australia and India
Building on a long history of cooperation - including our shared experience in the trenches of the First World War in Gallipoli and along the Western Front - Australia and India have maintained a positive defence relationship. This is underpinned by our 2006 Memorandum on Defence Cooperation and the 2009 Joint Declaration on Security Co-operation. Following the agreement in 2014 of a bilateral Framework for Security Cooperation the defence relationship has grown to include a range of forums for strategic dialogue, as well as regular interactions between our respective services through senior visits, staff talks, and training exchanges.
The Australia–India defence relationship now encompasses almost every major function of the military: strategic dialogues, coordination, and information exchanges; military exercises involving ground, air and maritime forces; exchanges and training; and defence scientific and technological cooperation. All of which is a reflection of our growing interoperability and strategic partnership.
The Information Fusion Centre - Indian Ocean Region in Gurugram is an Indian initiative to boost maritime security and response through the exchange of information related to the ships in the Indian Ocean Region. As a part of Australia’s intent to meet maritime challenges, we are posting our first liaison officer at the IFC-IOR in February. The officer will work as a bridge between Canberra and New Delhi to enhance situational awareness.
- Strategic Dialogue
In June 2020, Australia and India decided to upgrade their Secretaries 2+2 dialogue (Defence and Foreign Affairs) to the Ministerial level. Ministers from the two countries will meet at least every two years to engage on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Last year also saw the first virtual summit meeting between Prime Ministers Morrison and Modi. The two leaders established a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
- Exercise Malabar
Australia participated in the MALABAR naval exercise in October 2020, joining India, the United States and Japan. The exercise brought together four regional defence partners and democracies, demonstrating a collective resolve to support an open and prosperous Indo-Pacific. High-end military exercises like MALABAR are also key to enhancing Australia’s maritime capabilities and building interoperability with our close partners.
Engagement between the Royal Australian Navy and the Indian Navy has advanced significantly through the key bilateral exercise, AUSINDEX. The third edition of the biennial exercise saw Australia send its largest ever defence deployment to India, including four ships, Australian Army forces, RAAF aircraft, comprising more than 1000 Australian personnel.
- Pitch Black
A major threshold of defence engagement was crossed when, for the first time, the Indian Air Force participated in Exercise Pitch Black in Darwin in 2018. Australia’s multilateral exercise involves air forces from several Australian ally and partner countries. India’s participation was additionally significant for staging the first mid-air refuelling of an IAF combat aircraft (Su-30MKI) by an RAAF aircraft (KC-30A), revealing a degree of coordination not previously demonstrated.
- Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement (MLSA) and Defence Science & Technology Implementing Arrangement (DSTIA)
Australia and India concluded the Mutual Logistic Support Arrangement (MLSA) in 2020 during the virtual summit between Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Narendra Modi. The agreement facilitates more sophisticated operational cooperation, enabling increasingly complex military engagement, and greater combined responsiveness to regional humanitarian disasters. The Defence Science and Technology Implementing Arrangement (DSTIA) facilitates interaction between our defence research organisations, both of which have made important contributions to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Shared Military Platforms
Australian and Indian militaries has become increasingly interoperable through the growing number of shared platforms, thereby increasing opportunities for joint training. These include C-17 strategic transport aircraft, C-130 tactical transport aircraft, P-8 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters.
- Training exchanges
Australia and India build links between our defence forces through regular personnel and training exchanges, such as short specialist courses and longer-term positions. Every year, Australia sends officers to attend India’s premiere military educational institutions: India’s Defence Services Staff College, and its National Defence College. India also sends three officers to study in Australia annually, at Australia’s Command and Staff College and the Defence and Strategic Studies course.