INDIA-FRANCE DEFENCE COOPERATION
Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.
- India approved plans to buy 26 Rafale fighter aircraft and three Scorpene class conventional submarines for the Indian Navy from France.
- The proposals were approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC).
- As per the proposals, the Indian Navy will get 22 single-seated Rafale Marine aircraft along with four trainer aircraft.
- The Navy has been pressing for acquiring these fighter aircraft and submarines urgently as the force has been facing shortages in view of the security challenges around the country.
- The aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant have been operating the MiG-29s and need the Rafales for operations on both carriers.
- The three Scorpene class submarines would be acquired under the repeat clause by the Navy as part of Project 75 and would be built at the Mazagon Dockyards Limited in Mumbai.
- India would be insisting on having more 'Make-in-India' content in the plan.
- Cooperation in defence is the cornerstone of the India-France strategic partnership.
- Although France became India's second-largest defence supplier from 2017-2021, it has been a reliable partner for India in the military aircraft domain since the 1950s.
- From the procurement of the first-generation Dassault Ouragan fighter, named 'Toofani' in the Indian Air Force (IAF), to the recent submarine and Rafale-M deal — the defence sector has emerged as a crucial pillar of the India-France relationship.
- The Dassault Mirage 2000s, which were received in 1985, continue to be India's go-to aircraft whenever it calls for an air strike. The super fighters proved to be a gamechanger as they pounded Pakistani positions on the Kargil hilltops during the 1999 war. The Mirages were also used to carry out airstrikes in Pakistan's Balakot in 2019.
- The two countries have a Ministerial level Defence dialogue, which has been held annually since 2018.
- The three services also have regular defence exercises; viz.
- Exercise Shakti (Army; the last one took place in November 2021 in France),
- Exercise Varuna (Navy; Last conducted in Arabian Sea from 30th March to 3rd April 2022),
- Exercise Garuda (Air Force; November 2022 in India).
- The Indian Navy also participated in the French-led La Pérouse exercise, along with other Quad members in April 2021.
- Various staff courses, training programmes etc. also take place regularly.
- The defence equipment purchase and joint development is a key aspect of the partnership, of which the purchase of 36 Rafale aircraft and the Contract for six P-75 Scorpenes Projects are the most visible examples.
- Moreover, France has also been instrumental in assisting India's defence modernisation efforts through technology transfers, enabling indigenous production capabilities, and joint ventures.
READ ALL ABOUT INDIA-FRANCE RELATIONS:
Defence Acquisition Council:
INS Vikramaditya and Vikrant
Q. Cooperation in defence is the cornerstone of the India-France strategic partnership and Defence cooperation between India and France will now include working together on futuristic technologies. Comment.