• Wednesday, February 21, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

India and France collaborate on defence equipment production

Macron and Modi agreed to expand bilateral ties in defence production, nuclear energy, space research

Narendra Modi and Emmanuel Macron during the 75th Republic Day celebrations, at the Kartavya Path in New Delhi. (ANI Photo)

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIA and France have agreed to work together on the joint production of defence equipment including helicopters and submarines for the Indian armed forces and production for friendly countries, New Delhi said.

The deal was reached during a visit by French president Emmanuel Macron, who met prime minister Narendra Modi and attended a state banquet hosted by president Draupadi Murmu, the government said in a statement late on Friday (26).

Macron and Modi agreed to expand bilateral ties in defence production, nuclear energy, space research and the use of artificial intelligence for public services like climate change, health and agriculture, the statement said.

It did not specify the value of any deals.

After Russia, France is the largest arms supplier to India, which has relied on its fighter jets for four decades.

The leaders welcomed the setting up of maintenance, repair and overhaul services by France’s Safran for leading-edge aviation propulsion (LEAP) engines in India and adding such services for Rafale engines, and a helicopter partnership.

The bilateral summit during Macron’s 40-hour visit, was the fifth Macron-Modi meeting since May.

India’s Tata Group and France’s Airbus have signed an agreement to manufacture civilian helicopters together, Indian foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said.

Tata and Airbus are already cooperating to make C-295 transport aircraft in Modi’s home state of Gujarat.

“Industrial partnership (signed) between Tata and Airbus helicopters for production of H125 helicopters with a significant indigenous and localisation component,” Kwatra told a media briefing.

Airbus, in a statement announcing the final assembly line (FAL) for helicopters on Friday, said the machines produced would also be exported to some of India’s neighbouring countries.

“The FAL will take 24 months to set up and deliveries … are expected to commence in 2026,” Airbus said, adding that the companies will jointly decide on the facility’s location.

French jet engine maker CFM International also announced an agreement with India’s Akasa Air to buy more than 300 of its LEAP-1B engines to power 150 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

Akasa Air previously ordered 76 aircraft powered by the engine, of which 22 are in use.

India and France agreed to intensify cooperation in the southwest Indian Ocean, building on joint surveillance missions carried out from the French island territory of La Reunion in 2020 and 2022, the government statement said.

Macron also said France would create conditions to attract up to 30,000 Indian students a year for higher education.

(Reuters)

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