NEW DELHI — The blacklisting of ST (Singapore Technologies) Kinetics in 2009 on alleged involvement in kickbacks with the Indian Ordnance Factories Board will not affect defense ties between India and the Indian Ocean island nation, says visiting Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.
Speaking at a lecture organized here Nov. 20, Hen said, “Singapore has a working mechanism where even defense companies recognize that they have to work themselves as per international norms, and ST Kinetics is well poised to defend itself.”
However, Indian Defence Ministry sources said Singapore raised the issue of blacklisting at the diplomatic level in the past when India canceled a tender for light howitzer guns in which BAE systems and Singapore Technology were competing.
The Defence Ministry subsequently decided to buy 145 howitzers from the U.S. subsidiary of BAE in 2010. The tender is now in the final stages and is likely to be inked this year.
India and Singapore have been cooperating in land-based military exercises in which Singapore troops have been using Indian locations. The two countries inked a five-year defense cooperation pact in 2007 that allows Singapore troops to exercise regularly on Indian territory and airspace.
This year, the Singapore Army held a joint artillery exercise at India’s artillery base in the central Indian state of Maharashtra, and the air forces of the two countries held joint drills over the eastern state of West Bengal.
India wants to increase strategic and defense ties to match the growing Chinese influence in the region. Singapore in turn is looking to tap the Indian defense market. Singapore Technologies had an eye on India’s $6 billion 155mm 52-caliber gun market, but that evaporated after the blacklisting of the company.