Indo-French military hardware on the cards
By Express News Service | Published: 27th July 2013 08:11 AM |
India and France on Friday decided to move beyond their buyer-seller ties in the defence sector to look at joint production of military hardware as a long-term strategic partnership whereby exporting arms could be possible.
This came out of the discussion French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had with his Indian counterpart A K Antony at South Block here, when the two sides reviewed their present cooperation in the military sphere, including projects that are currently under implementation, and future possibilities.
Later in the evening, addressing the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses here, Le Drian spelt out the possibilities. “It is obvious that we (the two nations) have gone beyond the client-supplier relation,” Le Drian said.
In this perspective, he said France “is prepared” to initiate joint co-development and co-production projects, which once decided together, would include, in the future, exporting the equipment produced in third country markets.
“Similarly, France is ready to share an increasing level of defence technology in connection with the development of joint projects. In the same logic of partnership, France assures India of the continuity of supplies for acquired equipment,” he added. However, Le Drian made it clear that the contract for supplying the IAF 126 Rafale combat planes was a priority, though he admitted that “at the risk of disappointing you, I will not be announcing the date of signing of the contract”.
The French Defence Minister just mentioned that the negotiations were going on well and he was fully confident of it going through soon.
Under the agreement, the French Government would assure India of its backing to French firm Dassault Aviation in completing its commitment vis-a-vis the Indian Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft contract. The pact has become necessary due to the deep financial crisis that has plagued French firm Dassault Aviation, which is the manufacturer of Rafale.
During their talks, Antony and Le Drian noted with satisfaction the upcoming bilateral army exercise ‘Shakti’ in September this year, to be hosted by France, apart from the ‘Varuna’ joint naval exercise off the Indian coast and the ‘Garuda’ air force exercises between the two nations in the first half of 2014.