France, India talk about submarines as Rafale fighters are delivered

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BHUBANESWAR, India – India received three more French fighter jets on Wednesday, and a deal for French submarines may not be far behind, as countries in Europe and South Asia find that ‘they share a commitment to security in the Indian Ocean.The submarines are said to come from French shipbuilder Naval Group, which “will formulate an offer that goes a long way in the direction of Make in India,” said a source familiar with the company’s preparation for the sub tender. – Sailors in the P75I category of the Indian Navy.

The source referred to the talks between French Defense Minister Florence Parly and her Indian counterpart, Rajnath Singh, in September. The meeting in New Delhi focused on Indo-French defense cooperation and procurement contracts, including “current contracts as well as possible future prospects,” the source said. “One of those is the tender for the P75I submarines. ”

The tender is to build six stealth submarines with air independent propulsion technology that would have a longer submerged range than submarines already shipped to the Indian Navy.

The deal, which is expected to be finalized next year, is valued at 420 billion rupees ($ 5.6 billion), according to Harsh V Pant, chief of the strategic studies program at the Observer Research Foundation.

Naval Group is currently working with India’s state-owned Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders to deliver six Kalvari submarines worth a total of 230 billion rupees ($ 3.13 billion). Two of them have already been launched, two are undergoing sea trials and two are under construction.

The projects include technology transfers from the French company to its Indian partners.

France has done more defense business with India over the past five years. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the country was India’s eighth-largest arms supplier from 2010 to 2014, with deals worth $ 199 million. It rose to No.3 over the next five years, making $ 1.6 billion in deals. Russia and Israel were number 1 and 2.

Pant said France remains committed to India, especially on technology transfer. ” After the [technology transfers involved with the P75I submarines], it is estimated that the Navy’s next submarine construction project would be entirely indigenous in design and technology, ”he said.

India’s military budget allocations show how French arms producers are gaining ground. Usually, around 40% of India’s total defense capital expenditure goes to its air force. This enabled India to purchase 36 Rafale fighters from French Dassault Aviation, the first five of which were delivered in September. The military and navy typically earn 20% to 30% of this spending, but continued submarine upgrades could force the Indian government to increase the navy’s budget in the years to come.

Cooperation between New Delhi and Paris goes beyond arms deals. France also supports India’s candidacy to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. “Paris recognized India’s geopolitical relevance long before others in mainland Europe,” said Gulshan Sachdeva, professor at the Center for European Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

Mohan Kumar, former Indian Ambassador to France, said France is probably the only great power with which India has “no dispute or serious dispute.” The United States raises trade disputes with India, Germany is not a member of the Security Council, and the United Kingdom tries to maintain a balance in its relations with India and Pakistan.

But “France has always been on India’s side,” Kumar said. “At the height of the nuclear tests of 1998, when the entire Western world declared India a pariah, France supported us.”

France has naval bases and territories in the Indian Ocean, which makes New Delhi believe that Paris could be a good strategic partner. © Reuters

Countries also want to elevate their defense relations above the current seller-buyer dynamic. To this end, France and India, as well as Australia, have entered into a dialogue to work outside of Quad – the Indo-Pacific grouping of the United States, India, Australia and Japan. . At the first official-level summit held virtually in September, the trio discussed climate, environment, biodiversity and challenges of multilateralism, Pant said.

France has a naval base in Djibouti, near the northwestern edge of the Indian Ocean, and a territory, Reunion Island, in the same body of water. These assets make New Delhi believe that Paris would be a good strategic partner as China strengthens its naval presence across the sea. “Maritime security in the Indo-Pacific region,” Sachdeva said, “is likely to become an area. key to bilateral engagement in the years to come. “



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