India France Defence Relations

India and France, on 6 December, agreed to intensify bilateral cooperation in the defence sector, especially in the field of maritime security and anti-piracy, besides, hoping to soon seal a deal to upgrade IAF’s Mirage-2000 fighter aircrafts.

India Frnace Relatiosn

Both New Delhi and Paris, of late, have welcomed future prospects and efforts for joint programmes in the defence sector. This includes mutual research and development, besides the transfer pf technology as the first step. Both sides expect to soon launch Kaveri (aircraft engine) and the short range surface to air missile. Kaveri, being co-developed by France and India is for the latter’s “Tejas”, the light combat aircraft (LCA). Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., the Indian defence PSU, has partnered with Snecma for the project.

Talks centring the upgrade of the Mirage-2000 aircraft can be expected to be soon finalised. France already has its navy stationed in Gulf of Aden for fighting the Somalian sea brigands, who in the recent past, adversely impacted the movement of merchant vessels across one of the busiest water channels of commerce. India had joined the combined anti-piracy patrol in October 2008. it has so far escorted over 1,00 vessels across the Gulf to safety, besides warding off more than two dozen pirate attacks on merchant vessels.

Paris is one of New Delhi’s most trusted and important defence partners. The latter has deeply appreciated the former’s keenness to supply advanced defence technologies which would contribute towards the modernization of India’s defence industry. The projected Rs. 9,640 crore upgrade plan for the 50-odd Mirage-2000 fighter jets of IAF includes a programme for advanced multi-mode pulse Doppler radar and the fire-and-forget missiles, slated to be executed by the two French companies D’Assault and Thales and HAL.

The IAF presently operates two Mirage-2000 squadrons and the upgrade plan would enable the fighter jets to execute a mission effectively because of better fuel efficiency and weapon deliver capacities. The project would equip the aircraft, first inducted by the IAF in the mid 1980s, with enhanced weapon carrying facility and a fly-by-wire digital cockpit. As per the programme, D’Assault and Thales will deliver the first two upgraded aircrafts inside 40 months of finalising the contract. At the same time, HAL will upgrade two more aircrafts. The Indian defence PSU will take charge of the upgrade programmes of the rest of the Mirage-200 aircrafts in India.

Both sides have also decided to co-produce the SRSAM missile under an arrangement between French missile manufacturer MBDA and the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The missile being developed would provide the Indian armed forces with better air defence capabilities for securing its crucial installations. While New Delhi and Paris had initiated the project way back in 2007, it took nearly four years to finalise. The next generation of air defence missiles, slated to be inducted by the army, navy and the air force, can also be offered for exports.

In the coming days, the two countries are expected to extend their cooperation through joint exercise between the two armies, besides the ongoing one between their navies.

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