India-France to join hands in fighter and submarine design and manufacturing

FILE PHOTO: France's President Emmanuel Macron welcomes India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi before a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France May 4, 2022. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

New Delhi:

Visiting diplomatic advisor to French President, Emmanuel Bonne, will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi today as his strategic dialogue with National Security Advisor Ajit Doval is pitched at making France a key partner in “Make in India” campaign in manufacturing much needed aircraft engine and long range submarine.

The 36th India-France Strategic dialogue will be held this afternoon and lead to other high level exchanges coming March. Diplomatic Advisor Bonne will also meet Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar.

While the Modi government is tight-lipped about the dialogue, India is building self-reliance in weapons and hardware platforms with the help of key allies like France in the face of rising militarization by China as once upon a time key supplier Russia bogged down in Ukraine war.

India is looking not only for 100 per transfer of technology for making aircraft engines to power its indigenous twin engine fighter but also designing and development of next generation high powered military and civilian engines for future fighter and transport platforms. Already Tata group has tied up with Airbus to manufacture C295 tactical transport aircraft in Vadodara in Gujarat. This line is going to be expanded into other civilian and military aircraft manufacturing in a joint venture with France.

With Kalveri (French Scorpene) class submarine line to deliver its final submarine this year, India is looking towards France to continue the manufacturing line at Mumbai dockyards with diesel attack submarines retrofitted with indigenous air independent propulsion (AIP) system for long endurance.

While a forward movement is expected on both aircraft engines and long range submarines this year with France, the two strategic allies will be discussing the Indo-Pacific as France is ready to help India in ocean bed mapping and underwater drones and sensors. Given the PLA belligerence in the Indo-Pacific with its rapidly expanding warship and nuclear submarine force, India along with its allies will have to prepare for all emergencies as Indian Ocean will be the next frontier. The two allies have formed a tri-lateral grouping with UAE to ensure maritime domain awareness and security from east coast of Africa to far Pacific. Space is another key area where India and France have joined hands to share technology to counter the rapid strides taken by China.

Both Doval and Bonne are also going to exchange notes on rising radicalization in the region particularly Af-Pak region after the rise of Taliban as well as terrorism emanating from Pakistan with India as the target. The twin terror attacks in Rajouri this month were conducted by Pakistan based Lashkar-e-Tayebba (LeT) group with innocent minority Hindus as targets. The terror attacks clearly indicated that proscribed groups like Jaish-e-Mohammed and LeT are thriving under the Pakistani deep state, whose objective is to target India particularly Jammu and Kashmir. It was due to support from key allies like France and US that India managed to black-list several Pak based terrorists by the 1267 Sanctions Committee despite China always coming to aid of Islamabad. Not only that, France and US were the two countries that blocked Chinese attempts to designate Indian engineers working in Afghanistan as terrorists at the behest of Pakistan.

During the strategic dialogue, Bonne will be briefed by Doval on the PLA posture along the 3488 km Line of Actual Control (LAC) and the two leaders will also discuss how to bring both Russia and Ukraine on the negotiating table to end a conflict that started last February 2022.