French defence minister to meet Sitharaman

French defence minister to meet Sitharaman

France would hardshell its submarine technology to India as the countries’ defence ministers, both women, are set to meet here on Friday to take forward the bilateral agenda on defence and security issues.

Florence Parly, the Minister for the Armed Forces of France will meet her Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman to strengthen France’s fast developing defence cooperation with India, its foremost Asian strategic partner.

Construction of a second assembly line for diesel-electric submarines and purchasing more Rafale aircraft are likely to figure in the talks between Parly and Sitharaman.

French major Naval Group (earlier known as DCNS) is one of the shipbuilders that responded to the Indian Navy’s Request for Information for the construction of six advocate submarines under Project-75I.

The three other contestants are German firm ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems,

Rosoboronexport Rubin Design Bureau of Russia and Saab Kockums of Sweden. A Japanese and Spanish firm opted out of the race.

The French delegation is likely to pitch for DCNS, which is constructing six Scorpene-class submarines at the Mazagon dock in Mumbai, a Rs 18,798 crore project.

In Mumbai on Saturday, Parley will board the first of the Scorpene-class boats, INS Kalvari, that has been delivered to the Indian Navy. The second boat, to be named INS Khanderi, is likely to be commissioned by this year end.

Purchase of more Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force (IAF) too would be on the agenda, as the government's decision to buy 36 Rafale aircraft from France was too inadequate for the IAF.

Parly will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on Saturday to prepare the ground for the visit of President Emmanuel Macron in early December, official sources said.

The French minister will later travel to Mihan special economic zone in Nagpur, to participate in the foundation stone laying ceremony of Dassault Reliance Aerospace Limited by its promoters – Anil Ambani, chairman of Reliance Group, and Eric Trappier, CMD of Dassault Aviation.

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