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From submarines to fighter jets: Big-ticket defence deals on agenda as Modi set to host Macron on R-Day

Macron will visit New Delhi to be the chief guest at India’s 75th Republic Day ceremony on January 26. He will have meetings with Modi and President Droupadi Murmu apart from witnessing the military parade on the Kartavya Path.
nirban Bhaumik
Last Updated : 31 December 2023, 13:22 IST
Last Updated : 31 December 2023, 13:22 IST

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New Delhi: With Prime Minister Narendra Modi set to host French President Emmanuel Macron a few weeks later, New Delhi and Paris may finalise deals on India procuring 26 Rafale Marine combat aircraft from France as well as on the construction of three submarines in India with the transfer of technology from France.

The two sides are also expected to adopt a roadmap for defence-industrial cooperation. New Delhi and Paris are keen to step up defence cooperation through partnership in the design, development, testing and manufacture of advanced defence technologies and platforms and expand joint production of military hardware in India with technology transferred from France, including for third countries in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

Macron will visit New Delhi to be the chief guest at India’s 75th Republic Day ceremony on January 26. He will have meetings with Modi and President Droupadi Murmu apart from witnessing the military parade on the Kartavya Path.

The meeting between Modi and Macron may see progress on the big-ticket defence deals, including the procurement of 26 Rafale-M fighter jets from Dassault Aviation of France for the Indian Navy.

A source in New Delhi told DH that the negotiation for an intergovernmental agreement for India to procure 22 single-seat and four dual-seat marine combat aircraft from Dassault Aviation of France had gained momentum over the past few months.

A day before Modi attended the Bastille Day parade in Paris on July 14 on an invitation from Macron, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) of the Government of India granted the grant of Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for the procurement of the 26 Rafale Marine aircraft for the Indian Navy from the Dassault Aviation of France, along with associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support.

The Rafale M fighter jets are being procured primarily for the INS Vikrant, the Indian Navy’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, which was commissioned on September 2, 2022. Some of the aircraft are also likely to be deployed on the INS Vikramaditya – the other carrier of the Indian Navy.

The proposed intergovernmental agreement was on the agenda of discussion when Modi and Macron met in Paris, but a deal could not be clinched then.

It was also discussed when Macron and Modi met in New Delhi on September 10 on the sideline of the 18th G20 summit.

Eric Trappier, the Chief Executive Officer of Dassault Aviation, visited New Delhi on October 9 and 10 and met top officials of the Government of India.

In response to a Letter of Request for the acquisition of the 26 Rafale M aircraft from India, France recently sent a Letter of Acceptance, with the pricing and other details offered by it. The final deal will be clinched after the negotiation between New Delhi and Paris over pricing concludes.

India had earlier purchased 36 Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force under an intergovernmental agreement inked with France in September 2016.

Macron’s forthcoming visit to New Delhi and his meeting with Modi may also see the two sides making progress on the proposed deal between Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited of India and the Naval Group of France for the construction of three additional submarines – as a follow-up to the construction of six Kalvari-class – an export derivative of the Scorpène-class of France – diesel-electric submarines for the Indian Navy under New Delhi’s acquisition programme ‘Project 75’.

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Published 31 December 2023, 13:22 IST

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