France and India agree on defense equipment joint production efforts

India and France have solidified their commitment to cooperate on joint defense production endeavors, as reported by The Straits Times. During French President Emmanuel Macron's recent visit to India, both nations reached a consensus to engage in the manufacturing of defense equipment, including helicopters and submarines for the Indian armed forces, as well as production for friendly nations.
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France holds the position of being the second-largest arms supplier to India, a relationship that has spanned over four decades, starting with Mirages and now with Rafales (Picture source: Twitter account of Indian Air Force)

This development stems from extensive discussions between President Macron and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which also encompassed the expansion of bilateral ties across various domains. These areas of collaboration include defense production, nuclear energy, space research, and the utilization of artificial intelligence for public services such as climate change mitigation, healthcare, and agriculture.

It's noteworthy that France holds the position of being the second-largest arms supplier to India, a relationship that has spanned over four decades, starting with Mirages and now with Rafales. The leaders of both countries expressed their gratitude for the establishment of maintenance, repair, and overhaul services for advanced aviation propulsion (LEAP) engines in India by France's Safran, with an extension of these services to Rafale engines. Furthermore, they are fostering a partnership in the helicopter sector, marked by an agreement between India's Tata Group and France's Airbus for the joint manufacturing of civilian helicopters.

Historically, India and France began engaging in military exchanges in the early 20th century, but their defense cooperation gained significant momentum in 1998 with the signing of the 'Strategic Partnership in the Indian Ocean Region.' This landmark agreement laid the groundwork for an enduring defense relationship.

Naval cooperation stands as a focal point of their collaboration. Regular naval exercises like the Varuna and Garuda series have enhanced interoperability and maritime security in the Indian Ocean. Joint development of critical naval technologies and intelligence sharing have bolstered their capabilities in safeguarding vital sea lanes.

Counter-terrorism and intelligence sharing are vital aspects of their partnership. Both nations exchange crucial information on emerging threats, terrorist networks, and cyber warfare, contributing significantly to global security.

In the realm of space technology, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and France's National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) collaborate on satellite technology, satellite navigation, and Earth observation. This cooperation enhances their capabilities in surveillance and reconnaissance.

Cybersecurity is another area of mutual concern. India and France work closely to combat cyber threats, sharing knowledge and expertise in cyber defense and capacity building to protect critical infrastructure.

Defense News January 2024