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'During the last 12 months, there have been exercises (between India and UK) in each domain of land, air and sea. This has happened for the first time in many years'

Minister for defence equipment, support & technology, United Kingdom, Philip Dunne is a man with long memory and little ceremony. He doesn’t need a reference for dates and people; both being on his finger-tips. This informality, borne out of self-assurance, is reflected in his office at Whitehall, where despite the austere atmosphere of the ministry of defence, he suffuses his domain with warmth and charm. Freely referring to his previous meetings with FORCE (twice before) in this conversation with FORCE editor Pravin Sawhney, Dunne emphasises that just as continuity is important in bilateral relationships, infusion of vigour from time to time keeps the momentum going.

Interview Philip Dunne

With Michael Fallon becoming the new defence secretary yesterday, following a major reshuffle in the government, do you see yourself as providing continuity in the government?

Yes. With around 40 per cent of the defence budget coming through my office it demonstrates continuity, particularly to the Defence Equipment Plan and this government’s commitment to get a grip on our expenditure. Moreover, the ministers responsible for the armed forces and personnel have also remained in post, offering further continuity for defence. Michael Fallon, the new defence secretary (and former business secretary), and I know one another well having previously worked together on the Treasury Select Committee. We have both been involved with the Defence Growth Partnership (DGP) announced at the Farnborough International Air Show this morning (July 16). So, for the best part of the year, Mr Fallon has been very engaged in understanding the UK defence industry.

At the Show, you made a remark that even outside countries, let’s say India, could be part of DGP. What does this mean?

The DGP has two main components. The first is to provide the UK supply chain with intelligence on export activities. The DGP therefore provides a forum whereby we can learn of other customer countries’ requirements on a government to government basis. We can pass that information to the forum and leave it to UK industry to work out how they offer to fulfil that requirement. At the moment, we don’t have a central body where we can do that. UKTI DSO do provide such information, but this is going to be a much more coordinated way of doing so. This is one aspect of DGP, providing export opportunities to British industry.

The other aspect is to showcase the capabilities of the UK industry’s supply chain to prime contractors from other countries who might want to approach the European or wider international market. For example, Indian contractors could get the information on the UK industry’s supply chain through DGP and determine for themselves which company or group of companies they would like to work with. This would facilitate access to our market, and potentially collaboratively into other European markets through UK.

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