In­dia and France to deepen se­cu­rity part­ner­ship

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By Ran­jit Ku­mar ]

The first visit by the French Min­is­ter for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly from Oc­to­ber 26 to 28, 2017, to New Delhi sig­ni­fied the sin­cere wish of the two strate­gic part­ners to fur­ther strengthen de­fence and se­cu­rity re­la­tions. Be­sides dis­cussing ways and means to fur­ther boost de­fence equip­ment and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion, the French min­is­ter had two im­por­tant wish list, which was con­veyed to the In­dian De­fence Min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man. The first was the ad­di­tional pro­cure­ment of 36 Rafale fighter jets and the sec­ond was the French de­sire to ex­tend the Scor­pene man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­gramme in In­dia.

Since In­dia ur­gently needs ad­di­tional fight­ers in large num­bers for the In­dian Air Force (IAF) and more sub­marines for the In­dian Navy, Ms Parly sug­gested the con­tin­u­a­tion of the fighter and sub­ma­rine pro­gramme cur­rently un­der way. The In­dian Navy is shortly to is­sue ten­der for six ad­di­tional sub­marines un­der the strate­gic part­ner­ship model of the Min­istry of De­fence. Ac­cord­ing to sources the French side has con­veyed to In­dia that the present joint man­u­fac­turer of the Scor­pene sub­marines DCNS can con­tinue the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Maza­gaon Docks Lim­ited un­der the Strate­gic Part­ner­ship model.

Thus the first de­fence min­is­te­rial visit un­der the Macron Pres­i­dency has pre­pared the ground for the forth­com­ing first visit to In­dia of the French Pres­i­dent later this year. De­fence is one of the strong­est pil­lars of In­dia-France co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tions, which has deep-

ened over the years. France has al­ways stood by In­dia and pro­vided moral sup­port on cru­cial mo­ments when In­dia faced in­ter­na­tional iso­la­tion, es­pe­cially in the after­math of the 1998 Pokaran nu­clear ex­plo­sion and sup­plied cru­cial timely as­sis­tance with re­quired spare parts and avi­a­tion com­po­nents dur­ing the Kargil con­flict with Pak­istan. The high level of con­fi­dence both the coun­tries have re­posed in each other prom­ises to fur­ther widen the co­op­er­a­tion in pro­duc­tion of var­i­ous ar­ma­ments in In­dia.

France has pro­vided In­dia with sen­si­tive tech­no­log­i­cal as­sis­tance not only in de­fence, but also in space and nu­clear tech­nolo­gies, which has helped In­dia at­tain self-suf­fi­ciency in th­ese two high-tech sen­si­tive sec­tors. In this back­drop, the French De­fence Min­is­ter dis­cussed with the In­dian De­fence Min­is­ter ways and means to fur­ther as­sist In­dia in at­tain­ing self re­liance in the de­fence sec­tor un­der the ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive of the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi. Ms Parly promised to strongly sup­port projects for de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing un­der the ‘Make in In­dia’ ini­tia­tive as well as pro­mote de­fence tech­nol­ogy and re­search and de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion.

As an ex­am­ple of this, the foun­da­tion stone of an ad­vanced fa­cil­ity to pro­duce sev­eral com­po­nents of off­set obli­ga­tion for the 36 Rafale air­craft was laid in the pres­ence of the French De­fence Min­is­ter. The French avi­a­tion gi­ant Das­sault Avi­a­tion in a joint ven­ture with Anil Am­bani-led Re­liance Group will in­vest Euro 100 mil­lion in Nag­pur. The Das­sault Re­liance Aero­space Lim­ited (DRAL) is be­ing set up in the Rs 6500 crore-Dhirub­hai Am­bani Aero­space Park in Mi­han near Nag­pur. This joint ven­ture is ex­pected to start pro­duc­tion by the end of year. DRAL will man­u­fac­ture com­po­nents for the Le­gacy Fal­con 2000 se­ries of busi­ness jets man­u­fac­tured by Das­sault Avi­a­tion and will be­come part of the French ma­jor’s global sup­ply chain. The of­fi­cials of the joint ven­ture have claimed that this is prob­a­bly the first step of the fi­nal as­sem­bly of the Rafale and Fal­con air­craft. The French side wants to im­press In­dia with its of­fer of man­u­fac­tur­ing the fu­ture Rafales in In­dia for the IAF. The Das­sault in­vest­ment marked the largest com­mit­ment in for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in one lo­ca­tion in the In­dian de­fence sec­tor.

Ac­cord­ing to Anil Am­bani, the Re­liance-Das­sault part­ner­ship will bring high lev­els of tech­nol­ogy trans­fer and make In­dia a ma­jor sup­plier in the global avi­a­tion chain. En­cour­aged by Das­sault’s de­ci­sion to in­vest in In­dia, other lead­ing French avi­a­tion com­pa­nies have de­cided to set up pro­duc­tion bases in the park. Das­sault Avi­a­tion has over 65 years long as­so­ci­a­tion with In­dia and the lat­est ven­ture sig­ni­fies a new era of de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and France.

For the In­dian Navy, the French sub­ma­rine man­u­fac­turer DCNS is help­ing In­dia pro­duce very ad­vanced Scor­pene sub­marines in In­dia in the Maza­gaon dock­yard. Giv­ing de­tails of the dis­cus­sions be­tween Nir­mala Sithara­man and her French coun­ter­part, the de­fence min­istry spokesper­son said that both sides re­viewed the on­go­ing ini­tia­tives to fur­ther strengthen bi­lat­eral de­fence co­op­er­a­tion as a key pil­lar of the strate­gic part­ner­ship be­tween In­dia and France. They also dis­cussed re­gional in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ments of mu­tual in­ter­est.

A range of mea­sures to ex­pand mil­i­tary to mil­i­tary ties, in­clud­ing the scope of the bi­lat­eral ex­er­cises in par­tic­u­lar Varuna ex­er­cises sched­uled early in 2018 was dis­cussed. In ad­di­tion to the joint mar­itime ex­er­cises, both the de­fence min­is­ters also okayed the plans to ex­plore ad­di­tional mea­sures to fa­cil­i­tate op­er­a­tional level in­ter­ac­tions be­tween the two armies and the air forces also. Recog­nis­ing the grow­ing sig­nif­i­cance of mar­itime se­cu­rity in the Indo-Pa­cific re­gion and the need for greater mar­itime do­main aware­ness, In­dia and France will fur­ther ex­pand in­for­ma­tion shar­ing ar­range­ments, build­ing upon the ‘Tech­ni­cal Ar­range­ment on Ex­change of White Ship­ping’ in­for­ma­tion signed ear­lier this year. Both the min­is­ters also had de­tailed ex­change of views on grow­ing sig­nif­i­cance of mar­itime se­cu­rity in the Indo-pa­cific and the need for greater mar­itime aware­ness. Since both the coun­tries share sim­i­lar se­cu­rity con­cerns in the In­dian and Pa­cific Oceans, France and In­dia seem to have taken a con­scious de­ci­sion to jointly strengthen each other’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the mar­itime do­main.

Das­sault Avi­a­tion has over 65 years long as­so­ci­a­tion with In­dia and the lat­est ven­ture sig­ni­fies a new era of de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing co­op­er­a­tion be­tween In­dia and France

The Min­is­ter for the Armed Forces of France, Florence Parly call­ing on the Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in New Delhi on Oc­to­ber 28, 2017

(Left) The French Min­is­ter for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly meet­ing the Flag Of­fi­cer Com­mand­ing-in-Chief, West­ern Naval Com­mand, Vice Ad­mi­ral Girish Luthra in Mum­bai; (right) Ms Parly with Cmde Rakesh Anand, Chair­man & Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, Mazagon Dock Ship­builders Lim­ited, Mum­bai.

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