Reliance, Dassault strike defence partnership
INDIA’S Reliance Group and France’s Dassault have signed a lucrative defence partnership as part of a fighter jet deal agreed between the two nations late last month.
India signed a contract to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets for 7.9 billion euros (US$8.8 billion), France’s biggestever such sale, as the nation seeks to bolster its military in the face of China’s growing clout.
Dassault, which is building the aircraft, agreed under the terms of the deal to invest about 50 percent of the value of the contract in India.
It has teamed with Indian billionaire tycoon Anil Ambani’s Reliance Group in a joint venture called Dassault Reliance Aerospace to focus on research and development of unspecified defence projects in India.
The partnership “illustrates our strong commitment to establish ourselves in India”, Dassault CEO Eric Trappier said in a joint statement.
However, the companies did not say how much of Dassault’s estimated 300 billion rupee ($4.5 billion) required investment would be poured into the joint venture.
India, the world’s top defence importer, is conducting a $100 billion upgrade of its Soviet-era military hardware, facing border disputes with its neighbours, China and Pakistan.
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who announced that his government had agreed to buy the jets while on a visit to Paris last year, has moved to reduce India’s reliance on expensive imports and called for the manufacturing of defence equipment locally.
The government has raised the limit on foreign investment in the defence sector and encouraged tie-ups between foreign and local companies.