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Backing ‘Make in India’ to the hilt, French defence leaders eagerly await PM Modi’s Paris visit

Indian and French Air Force Rafales practise over the Parisian skies to achieve perfect synchronisation for the Bastille Day Parade (Image courtesy: Indian Air Force)

Vowing their full commitment to the ‘Make in India’ initiative, several French companies are eagerly looking forward to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris starting Thursday.

PM Modi will be in the French capital to attend Friday’s Bastille Day Parade at the famed Champs-Elysees avenue as ‘Guest of Honour’ – an event where a 269-member tri-services contingent of the Indian Armed Forces will also march in unison alongside their local counterparts.

The Prime Minister’s significant visit, which marks the 25th anniversary of the India-France Strategic Partnership, comes on the heels of his highly-successful trip to the United States last month which visibly raised New Delhi’s global profile.

India and France, which have a shared vision of peace and security, especially in Europe and the Indo-Pacific, believe that PM Modi’s visit will herald the next phase in the India-France Strategic Partnership by setting new and ambitious goals for strategic, cultural, scientific, academic, and economic cooperation, including in a wide range of industries.

PM Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron remain clear that the strategic partnership between the two major powers is “more relevant today than ever” and continue to deepen ties in the defence and security sector besides making the blue economy a driver of progress for both the nations.

As India creates a robust indigenous defence manufacturing ecosystem at home, French global leaders in the defence industry like Dassault Aviation, Naval Group, Airbus Group, MBDA, Nexter, Safran and Thales have been working overtime to strengthen the long-term partnerships.

Modi Macron
A file image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris (Image courtesy: PIB)

“France and India share a unique relationship of mutual trust, respect and friendship. Airbus is honoured to contribute to this special relationship by supporting the growth of India’s aerospace and defence industry. Airbus is expanding its footprint in India while strengthening the ‘Make in India’ initiative at the same time,” said Airbus Chief Executive Guillaume Faury in a video message that was tweeted by the Indian Embassy in France.

Faury emphasised that the participation of PM Modi at this year’s Bastille Day Parade underlines the amicable ties in the spirit of the deep India-France strategic partnership.

Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems have already entered a collaboration for the manufacturing and assembly of the C-295 aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF), adding to the spirit of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ which is essentially ‘Make-in-India’ to ‘Make for the World’.

Under the agreement, Tata Advanced Systems was selected as the Indian Production Agency (IPA) by Airbus. It will not only produce 40 fly-away C-295 aircraft from its facilities but will also subsequently provide MRO support and service for the total 56 aircraft that will be procured by IAF.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com earlier, India’s first C-295 aircraft rolled out of the Airbus defence production facility in the city of Seville, located in southern Spain, a few months ago.

The Rs 21,935 crore project, the first of its kind in which a military aircraft will be manufactured in India by a private company, involves the full development of a complete industrial ecosystem – from the manufacture to assembly, test and qualification, to delivery and maintenance of the complete lifecycle of the aircraft.

The first 16 fly-away aircraft are scheduled to be received between September 2023 and August 2025 while the first ‘Made in India’ aircraft is expected from September 2026.

As it offers the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft to the IAF to meet its long-term strategic requirements, Airbus continues to work with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) on further development of an indigenous missile approach warning system produced locally for Cheetah and Chetak helicopter fleet

The largest aeronautics and space company in Europe announced last month that Air India has firmed up its order for 250 Airbus aircraft and selected an Airbus maintenance and digital package to power the airline’s transformation and growth strategy.

safran helicopter
Safran new generation helicopter engines are much fuel-efficient over other in-service engines (Image courtesy: Safran)

Safran, another major French aviation and defence equipment manufacturer, eagerly awaits PM Modi’s visit to Paris that can lead to some major joint venture announcements in future.

Safran Helicopter Engines and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) have signed a workshare agreement for the joint development of the engine intended for the future 13-tonne Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) and its naval version Deck Based Multi-Role Helicopter (DBMRH).

The French pioneer company in aeroengine design, development and manufacturing has been bolstering its strategic partnership with India

Earlier this year, Air India and CFM International – a joint company between GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines – signed an agreement for the largest-ever CFM LEAP engine order that will exclusively power the airline’s newly-announced fleet of 210 Airbus A320/A321neo and 190 Boeing 737 MAX family aircraft.

“The group strongly supports the ambition of India’s rapidly growing aviation industry and we are fully committed to the make-in-India strategy. We hope that both India and France will seize the occasion to accelerate the strategic partnerships to the benefit of both countries. Welcome to France, Prime Minister Modi,” said Safran CEO and Director Olivier Andries on Wednesday.

As India had signed the contract for the acquisition of 36 Rafale in 2016, Safran had highlighted the role played by its key systems and equipment for the ‘omnirole’ fighter jets designed and built by French major Dassault Aviation.

As four IAF Rafale fighters fly over the Champs-Elysees on Friday, Dassault is pitching its Rafale maritime fighter for carrier operations on India’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

The deal could be part of the roadmap for the new phase of bilateral relationship that is expected to be unveiled by PM Modi and Macron in the next 72 hours.

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