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Indo French Maritime Cooperation in the Northern Indian Ocean

Published Dec 10, 2019
Updated Feb 06, 2020

Vice Admiral Didier Maleterre, joint commander of French forces in the Indian Ocean and the United Arab Emirates underlined the growing maritime cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region between the two navies.

The two sides are looking at joint patrols and operations in the northwestern Indian Ocean, including the Gulf of Aden as per the Hindustan Times. “Joint patrols with India is a new concept. We don’t have so many assets (in the region) and the agenda for next year will be very important,” Maleterre said.

France is also planning a secure link for exchange of classified information between its military headquarters in Abu Dhabi and the Indian Navy in Delhi. “This illustrates the level of confidence in our relationship. It is very rare to have such links with non-NATO countries to exchange classified information,” he said. “We want to conduct joint operations with India for maritime surveillance and perhaps more sensitive (matters). For that we need classified communications. I know the Indian Navy is working on that. So we have the will, the objective is to be inter-operable with India and we are on the good track,” Maleterre said as per the Hindustan Times.

India and France have expanded defence cooperation in the recent past.

Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh visited France from 07 to 08 October and participated in the Rafale fighter aircraft handing over ceremony at Merignac along with French Minister of Armed Forces Ms Florence Parly.

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).

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.