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India France Defence Cooperation – Multiple Activities Strengthen Linkages

Published Nov 02, 2019
Updated Feb 06, 2020

Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh visited France from 07 to 08 October. On October 8th morning, Shri Rajnath Singh he met Mr Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic. Later, Raksha Mantri participated in the Rafale fighter aircraft handing over ceremony at Merignac along with French Minister of Armed Forces Ms Florence Parly.

He also performd the Shastra Puja on the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami and flew a sortie in the Rafale fighter aircraft.

ShriRajnath Singh held the Annual Defence dialogue with French Minister of Armed Forces Ms Florence Parly. On October 9, Raksha Mantri addressed the CEOs of the French Defence industry during which he urged them to participate in “Make in India” and the DefExpo to be held in Lucknow from February 5-8, 2020.

Shri Rajnath Singh on October 07 attended a ceremony for the Handing over of the first of the 36 Rafale aircrafts being acquired by India from France.

The Indian delegation included Defence Secretary Dr. Ajay Kumar, senior officials from the Ministry of Defence and the three Services.

In his address at the Raksha Mantri Rafale handing over Ceremony in Merignac, France Shri Rajnath Singh emphasised on the focus to equip Indian Air Force and enhance its capabilities, saying that the new Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) will make India stronger and will give a boost to its air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region.

“In India, today is Dussehra, the festival where we celebrate victory over evil. It is also the 87th Indian Air Force Day. Therefore, today’s day becomes symbolic in so many ways”, Shri Rajnath Singh said. Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh says the strong cooperation between India and France will continue to grow and contribute to global peace, prosperity and environmental sustainability.

He also stressed the importance of the ceremony saying it signifies the depth of strategic partnership between India and France. Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh also said he was glad in knowing that a large number of India Air Force officers and airmen are being trained in France for flying, maintenance support and logistics for handling Rafale fighter aircraft and hoped the training in French facilities will help the crew in acquiring knowledge and professional expertise required for performing their task in India.

Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh pointed out that the Rafale Project Monitoring Team (PMT) from India has been positioned in France since August 2017 to ensure smooth implementation of the project. The Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale aircraft procurement was signed between the Government of India and Government of France on 23 September, 2016.

“By February 2021, we will get delivery of 18 Rafale aircraft and by April-May 2022, we will get all 36 aircraft. This is a part of our self defence and not a sign of aggression against anyone. It is a deterrent,” Singh said while speaking to the media.

Shri Rajnath Singh held talks with President of the French Republic, Mr Emmanuel Macron, in Paris on October 8, 2019. “I thanked President Macron for his strong support to further intensifying our strategic partnership, especially in the defence sector, with India and for our ‘Make in India’ initiatives”, Shri Rajnath Singh said after the meeting. Raksha Mantri also thanked the French President for the strong support by France to India’s strategic interests and principles, including in fighting terrorism.

Shri Rajnath Singh also held the Second India-France Ministerial level Annual Defence Dialogue with his French counterpart, the Minister for the Armed Forces Ms. Florence Parly on October 8th in Paris.

During the Annual Defence Dialogue held in Paris, the two Ministers comprehensively reviewed the entire gamut of bilateral defence cooperation, which is a key pillar of India-France Strategic Partnership. They also exchanged views on contemporary regional and international developments of mutual interest. Both sides discussed ways to further deepen defence-related official as well as operational level interactions.

The two nations agreed to expand the scope and complexity of the existing regular bilateral joint exercises (SHAKTI, VARUNA and GARUDA). Recognising that India-France partnership in the Indian Ocean Region is crucial for preserving and promoting the common strategic and security interests, the two Ministers noted the continuing implementation of actions outlined in the “Joint Strategic Vision of India-France Cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region” (March 2018).

The Ministers also reaffirmed the strong intention of the two sides to further deepen bilateral cooperation on counter terrorism.

In related issue on Indo French defence cooperation, on 28th September, Mr Rajnath Singh commissioned the second [Scorpene] Kalveri Class submarine INS Khanderi.

INS Khanderi has been built in India to the French Scorpene design by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited, INS Khanderi is a lethal addition to Navy’s conventional submarine arsenal and is designed for silent and stealthy sub-surface operations. INS Khanderi is the follow-on to INS Kalvari, which was the first of the French origin Scorpene class submarines being indigenously constructed in India and commissioned by the Prime Minister in 2017 said the press release on the occasion.

First put out to sea in 2017, INS Khanderi has undergone comprehensive sea trials, torpedo and missile firings to validate her fighting capability. She was handed over to the Indian Navy on completion of trials on September 19, 2019. At 67.5 meters long and 12.3 meters high, Khanderi embodies cutting edge technologies that ensure stealthy, silent operations underwater and is equipped with an array of torpedoes, missiles and sensors that enable her to detect, identify and destroy enemy targets. The first submarine was commissioned into the Indian Navy on December 6, 1968 and was decommissioned on October 18, 1989 after 20 years of service to the nation said the press release.

The Indo–French joint training EX SHAKTI – 2019 commenced at Mahajan on 31 October 2019 with opening ceremony that saw the unfurling of the National Flags of both countries amidst playing of the National anthems, “Jana Gana Mana” and the “La Marseillaise”. On October 26 , the French contingent of a platoon group of 21st Marine Infantry Regiment Comprising of 45 persons landed at Bikaner directly from France. The 14 days schedule is focused upon joint training on Counter Insurgency/ Counter Terrorism environment. The training will focus primarily on high degree of physical fitness, sharing of drill at tactical level and learning of best practices from each other. The exercise aims at enhancing understanding, cooperation and interoperability between the two Armies. The exercise will culminate in a 36 hrs long validation exercise which will involve neutralization of terrorists in a village hideout. The joint exercise will facilitate both armies to know each other better, share their wide experiences and enhance their situational awareness through information exchange.The bilateral training exercise will be conducted at Foreign Training Node at Mahajan Field Firing Ranges, Rajasthan. A contingent of the Sikh Regiment of Sapta Shakti Command will represent Indian Army in this exercise.

As part of Indian Navy’s Overseas Deployment to Africa, Europe and Russia, Indian Naval Ship Tarkash arrived at St Denis, Reunion Island, France today, on 03 Oct 19 for a three day visit. INS Tarkash, commanded by Captain Sathish Vasudev, is a potent frontline frigate of the Indian Navy equipped with a versatile range of weapons and sensors. The ship is part of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet and under the Operational Command of Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, based at Mumbai. During the port call, the Commanding Officer will pay courtesy calls on various dignitaries and government officials at Reunion Island including the Superior Commander of French Naval Forces in Southern Indian Ocean, Prefect of Reunion Island and the Mayor of Le Port. Professional interactions between the French and Indian Navies are planned towards further enhancing co-operation.

In addition, social engagements, sports events and best practices will also be shared between the two Navies. France and India have traditionally enjoyed warm and friendly bilateral relations, sharing common values of democracy, development and secularism which was upgraded to the level of a ‘Strategic Partnership’ in 1998. There have been regular high level exchanges and interactions in numerous fields between both countries. The Navies of both nations have recently engaged in one of the most complex and major Maritime Exercise ‘VARUNA 2019’ in the Indian Ocean, involving the participation of Carrier Task Groups from both sides and conduct of full-spectrum Naval operations. Indian Navy ships are regularly deployed overseas as part of Indian Navy’s mission of building ‘bridges of friendship’ and strengthening international cooperation in with friendly countries.