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India, Mongolia to Boost Defence Ties Through Sales of Indigenous Weapons: Experts

© Photo : Indian Air Force / India's Tejas Fighter JetIndian Air Force Tejas Fighter Jet
Indian Air Force Tejas Fighter Jet - Sputnik India, 1920, 04.05.2024
The LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) programme, currently focusing on training, which could lead to future sales of LCA Tejas aircraft to Mongolia; and the BrahMos missile system, a joint effort between Russia and India, with experts saying discussions are underway for possible BrahMos missile sales to Mongolia.
India and Mongolia on Thursday reviewed the progress of their strategic partnership, with special emphasis on ongoing development projects in Mongolia.
The discussion was led by Meenakashi Lekhi, Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture of the Indian Union, and Ganbold Dambajav, Ambassador of Mongolia.
“Met Ambassador of Mongolia H.E. Mr. Ganbold Dambajav today and reviewed progress in the India-Mongolia Strategic Partnership, including ongoing development projects in Mongolia,” the Indian Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture shared on X (Former Twitter).
In 2014, India pledged to help Mongolia improve its capabilities in special operations, cyber security and weapons and tactics, according to then home minister Rajnath Singh.

Capacity Building & Military Training as Key Facets of India-Mongolia Cooperation

“India, emphasizing self-reliance and export capabilities in defence through initiatives like 'Make in India for the World,' prioritizes indigenization. As part of this endeavour, India is eager to extend its expertise and equipment to friendly nations, including Mongolia, considered a spiritual neighbour,” Ambassador Anil Trigunayant (Retd), Deputy Chief of Mission to Mongolia told Sputnik India.
The Ambassador stressed that "India's core interests lie in democracy, dharma and development. Its strategic importance is enhanced by its geographical proximity and deep-rooted civilisational ties".

“India provides considerable financial assistance through extensive lines of credit, including investments amounting to billions of dollars in projects such as refinery construction. Moreover, its wealth of mineral resources, including copper and uranium, creates fertile ground for mutually beneficial collaborative partnerships to flourish” Trigunayant noted.

Mongolia ranks fourth out of 64 countries in terms of credit line recipients, according to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
Moreover, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in India, the Mongolian authorities granted entry to 60 Indian citizens for employment in the construction of the oil refinery project, despite numerous countries refusing entry to individuals from India.
The ambassador also pointed out that "areas such as AI, ICT, higher education, industrial development, cyber and space offer new opportunities for cooperation".
“The main components entail exchanges of military personnel and capacity building programs, aligned with India's foreign policy emphasis on technical and economic cooperation, particularly in IT-related domains between both the nations,” Prof (Dr) Srikanth Kondapalli, Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) told Sputnik.

During Modi's visit to Mongolia in 2015, according to Kondapalli, “discussions also touched upon defence aspects, indicating the depth of engagement. Both countries conduct a joint military exercise (Nomadic Elephant), a Joint Working Group Meeting between their defence ministries. This underscores the content of our bilateral exercises, which holds significance as India primarily seeks capacity building”.

Consequently, the Professor indicated that “these exercises have been ongoing for almost a decade and a half, revealing the importance attached to them”.
Furthermore, the Professor revealed that “India's strategic interest in Mongolia stems from its keen focus on the development and import of mineral deposits, particularly coking coal, copper, rare earth, and uranium. Indian companies have actively participated in bidding processes for mining projects in Mongolia since 2007, including the complex bidding process for the large coking coal deposit at Tavan Tolgoi”.
In addition, in 2009, India signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Mongolia to explore opportunities for peaceful uses of radioactive minerals and nuclear energy, signalling its interest in participating in uranium development projects in Mongolia.

India & Mongolia's Shared Vision: Advancing Towards Inclusive Asia Pacific

“Additionally, joint statements have referenced a broader, inclusive security architecture in the Asia Pacific region, signalling a shared vision for both nations”, the Professor highlighted.
The significant interest displayed by the United States in Mongolia, as per the professor, “primarily revolves around containing or mitigating China through various means”.
“There are two notable projects currently under consideration, contingent upon various clearances and discussions. The first involves the LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) program, currently focused on training rather than combat operations. India is poised to provide training to Mongolian pilots, this training, conducted using the LCA Tejas platform, could potentially pave the way for future sales of the aircraft to Mongolia, marking a significant development in defence relations” he assured.
The second project, Kondapalli stressed “centres around the BrahMos missile system, a joint initiative between Russia and India. Following successful sales to countries such as the Philippines and an expression of interest from Indonesia, discussions with Mongolia regarding BrahMos missiles are also underway”.
“Additionally, collaboration in the production of small arms, such as automatic rifles manufactured in Uttar Pradesh, represents another avenue for cooperation” he underscored.
The Professor concludes “recent elevation of the partnership from a comprehensive to a strategic level suggests the potential for further enhancements and additions to the collaboration, underscoring the dynamic nature of the relationship”.
Indian army soldiers (File) - Sputnik India, 1920, 16.07.2023
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