India, France announce raft of major defence cooperation projects

In view of the uptick in defence industrial collaborations between the two countries, India is setting up a technical office of the DRDO at the Indian embassy in Paris

Indian PM Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron. (photo: Getty Images)
Indian PM Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron. (photo: Getty Images)

NH Digital

India and France on Friday, July 14, announced a raft of "ground-breaking" defence cooperation projects, including the joint development of jet and helicopter engines and the construction of three Scorpene submarines for the Indian Navy, following talks between prime minister Narendra Modi and French president Emmanuel Macron.

The two strategic partners also expressed commitment to cooperate in the co-development and co-production of advanced defence technologies, including for the benefit of third countries, a decision seen as a reflection of the growing bilateral defence ties.

There was no word on the much-anticipated procurement of 26 naval variants of Rafale fighter jets by India from France.

However, a document listing a 25-year roadmap to further advance the strategic relations mentioned the "timely delivery" of the 36 Rafale jets, which were procured by India from France for the Indian Air Force.

The defence ministry on Thursday, July 13, approved proposals to purchase 26 Rafale jets from France and procure three French-designed Scorpene class submarines.

The document said the two sides welcome an agreement inked between India's Mazgaon Dockyard Ltd and France's Naval Group for the construction of three additional submarines under the P-75 programme.

A roadmap for this project will be prepared between Safran and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) before the end of this year.

They also announced supporting industrial cooperation for the motorisation of heavy-lift helicopters under the Indian Multi Role Helicopter [IMRH] programme with the Safran Helicopter Engine.

"To enable progress on the IMRH programme, a shareholders' agreement between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India and Safran Helicopter Engine, France has been concluded for engine development," the document said.

It said these ventures are in line with the spirit of trust that prevails between India and France in the sharing and joint development of critical components and technology building blocks, based on the successful Indo-French experience in technology transfer.

It mentioned that other examples of the defence industrial partnership included the contract being concluded between the Safran Helicopter Engine and HAL for the transfer of technology of "forging and castings" for the Shakti engine.

This is also reflective of the French commitment to support technology transfer and Make in India, it said.

Another such example is the MoU between Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd and Naval Group France to collaborate in the field of surface ship that caters to fulfil the requirement of India and international naval forces, it added.

"To this end, both countries are also working towards adopting a roadmap on defence industrial cooperation," it said.

In view of the uptick in defence industrial collaborations between the two countries, India is setting up a technical office of the DRDO at the Indian embassy in Paris.

A separate joint communique said: "Our political and diplomatic engagements are among our closest and most trusted. Our defence and security partnership is strong and extends from the seabed to space." Earlier, Prime Minister Modi described India-France defence cooperation as a strong pillar of the overall ties and said the two sides can work to jointly manufacture key military platforms not only for their own use but for friendly third countries as well.

"Defence cooperation has been a strong pillar of our relationship. It is a symbol of deep mutual trust between the two countries. France is an important partner in Make in India and 'Self-reliant India' initiative," he said.

"Today, we will talk about co-production and co-development of new technology in India in the field of defence," he said.

"Be it submarines or naval ships, we want to work together to meet the needs of not only our own but also of third-friendly countries," Modi said ahead of the talks.

He said there are possibilities of increasing cooperation between the defence space agencies of the two nations.

"We are moving ahead in French companies setting up MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul) facilities, spare parts, and production of engines for helicopters in India. We will emphasise on further strengthening our cooperation in this," he said.

The prime minister also said that India and France have a special responsibility to ensure peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

"As resident powers of the Indo-pacific, India and France have special responsibility for peace and stability in the region," he said.

Modi arrived at Paris on Thursday on a two-day visit. Earlier in the day, the prime minister graced the Bastille Day parade, which is part of the French National Day celebrations, as the guest of honour. 

Meanwhile, Modi became the first Indian premier to have been conferred with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, France's highest civilian and military honour, by the French president.

Modi received the honour at the Elysee Palace on Thursday and joined the ranks of other prominent world leaders such as the former president of South Africa Nelson Mandela, King Charles, the then Prince of Wales, former Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary General of the United Nations, among others.

With PTI inputs

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