India explores export of defence equipment to Oman to elevate strategic partnership

Eyeing to expand the India-Oman strategic partnership close on the heels of Sultan Haitham bin Tarik’s India trip, deputy national security adviser Vikram Misri visited Muscat to explore collaboration in different sectors including possible export of defence equipment to the sultanate.

During Misri’s visit, discussions were held on strategic, military and security cooperation including defence exports, and maintenance of Oman’s ports apart from cooperation in disaster management, oceanography and artificial intelligence, ET has learnt.

The deputy NSA also met Gen Sultan bin Mohammed Al Nomani, minister of the Royal Office in Oman and a key figure in the country’s decision-making process.

Also,  the two sides also gave a push to a bilateral trade deal which could be concluded in a record time.

Notably, India has a robust defence partnership with Oman, its oldest strategic partner in the Gulf, and it is keen to add meat to its ties through possible exports of defence items.

The list may include artillery systems, ET has learnt.

India and Oman enjoy a great degree of trust, but Muscat has resources and the market is therefore competitive.

India may have to compete with some of the global players, according to a person familiar with the issue.

Last month, defence secretary Giridhar Aramane co-chaired the 12th Joint Military Cooperation Committee with Mohammed Bin Naseer Bin Ali Al Zaabi, Oman’s secretary general, Ministry of Defence, in Muscat, and the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding pertaining to procurement of defence equipment and material which would provide a framework for a new area of defence collaboration.

While joint defence exercises are regular, India had supplied Oman with rifles in the past. Oman has a strategic location that gives India access to the key part of the Indian Ocean Region that is volatile besides giving access to Eastern and Southern Africa.

Recently Oman allotted a specific zone to India in the strategically located Port of Duqm, a development that will help enhance India’s role in the Western and Southern Indian Ocean Region.

The move will augment the Indian Navy’s role as a net security provider amid the ongoing crisis in the Red Sea and the Western Indian Ocean Region.

Further, the port provides a logistical base for India in the field of maritime cooperation.

It will also enhance India’s role as a first responder in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

The Red Sea crisis demonstrates the importance of strategically located capabilities and logistics that can play a role in enhancing security of merchant shipping, ensuring freedom of navigation and safeguarding commerce on the high seas.