Coming barely a week after UK government and industry officials used the Farnborough air show to underscore a continued and growing emphasis on securing defence exports, India's confirmation of a repeat order for BAE Systems' Hawk advanced jet trainer is a swift indicator of success.
In late July, the UK Trade & Investment body's Defence and Security Organisation (UKTI DSO) announced that the country had exported defence goods and services worth £7.2 billion ($11.2 billion) in 2009, up 70% on the previous year's £4.2 billion. It attributed the sales spike to support deals linked to Saudi Arabia's acquisition of 72 Eurofighter Typhoons, and on a variety of business activities with the USA.
The strong orders total took the value of the UK's defence export activities to £93 billion over a 10-year period, with aircraft-related deals having accounted for 79% of this total. It also maintained its second-place status behind US industry, with a global share of around 20%.
"The government encourages us to increase our market share, and we are determined to deliver on that," says UKTI DSO head Richard Paniguian. "It is our job to ensure that UK industry is in the fittest possible condition, and able to anticipate market needs."
Separately, UK exports linked to the security sector rose by 14% last year to reach £1.4 billion. "Our expectation in security is to see double-digit growth into the future," Paniguian says.
UKTI DSO has identified almost 20 countries, including Brazil, Iraq, Oman and Turkey, as holding sales potential for defence and security deals in 2010-11.
Worth more than £700 million to BAE and Rolls-Royce, India's follow-on order for 57 Hawk 132s marks the UK's latest success with a product that has now been sold to 18 countries.
"We have got to get to opportunities more quickly, and deliver products tested and capable in the hands of our own armed forces," Paniguian says. "Last year we did that, and this is turning out to be a promising year as well."