The Carrier Strike Group 2021 deployment has captured global attention since it left British shores earlier in the year.
So, naturally, we were thrilled to welcome HMS Queen Elizabeth and her accompanying ships to India for a second round of engagement. The first round, earlier in the year as the CSG headed towards the Indo-Pacific, was impacted by the pandemic, which prevented any industry activities. However, thanks to an improvement in the Covid-19 situation, we were able to welcome the group into Mumbai as it headed home. Representing BAE Systems was Ravi Kumar (Vice-President, Business Development Maritime for Group Business Development) and I, who flew down from Delhi to take part in the visit.
Among the many highlights of the engagement was the Defence and Security Industry Day (DSID) hosted on the Type 45 destroyer, HMS Defender, which was moored alongside the naval port in Mumbai. During the DSID, I was proud to showcase BAE Systems’ CSG contribution to the many Indian stakeholders who attended, including senior figures from the Indian Navy and Government.
I spoke at length about how our Company is able to support India as it pursues its next generation of aircraft carriers. The T45 engagement also included a busy half day programme of tours, speaking slots and equipment demonstrations. BAE Systems was prominent throughout the DSID with visitors gaining a detailed understanding of how integrated the Company is with the Royal Navy.
Guests of honour from the UK were Liz Truss, Foreign Secretary, and Lord Offord, Secretary of State for Scotland, as well as Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff. In addition to the focus on the naval capabilities of the CSG, there was also a significant attention paid to the deep ties between the UK and India.
My personal highlight of the CSG Mumbai visit was a tour of HMS Queen Elizabeth, which was anchored out in Mumbai’s waters. I flew by helicopter to the aircraft carrier, taking about 35 minutes, and sat alongside leaders from the Indian Navy, as well as industrialists and decision makers.
We toured the aircraft carrier, and I was able to speak to the Captain on the bridge as well as having a fantastic view from control tower. I watched two F-35s lift-off and land, which is an awe-inspiring experience.
Towards the end of the tour I met and spoke to members of our team who are working on-board the carrier. BAE Systems personnel from RAF Marham are permanently embarked on HMS Queen Elizabeth delivering pilot currency and mission rehearsal training. I shared with them the Company’s appreciation for their efforts and dedication and how proud we are to have supported the management and delivery of the Carrier Strike Group ’21.
As well as the DSID and HMS Queen Elizabeth visit, there was also the inaugural Electric Propulsion Capability Partnership Joint Working Group (EPCP JWG) which will outline future collaboration between the UK and India in delivering Electronic Propulsion to the Indian Navy.
On land, to complete the engagement, there was a reception at Mumbai’s Taj Palace Hotel, where once again we were proud to fly the flag for BAE Systems to leaders from Indian industry, government and armed forces.