Thursday, June 13, 2024

Emerging Horizons: A New Epoch In India’s Defence Space & Military Hardware Collaboration With France & The US

By Staff Correspondent

India’s burgeoning space industry and military modernisation efforts have received a significant impetus from partnerships with two of its prominent allies, the United States of America and France. This potentially sets the stage for a considerable shift in the global defence landscape.

In a recently concluded state visit to Washington, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a joint agreement with the United States to expand their cooperation in space technology. This development is part of a larger strategy to establish India as a formidable counterweight to China’s space ambitions. The American collaboration seeks to leverage the explosive growth of India’s domestic space sector, with over 140 registered space technology companies now operating in the country.

A series of bilateral agreements were signed to bolster commercial collaboration between American and Indian private sectors across the space economy’s entire value chain. Amid geopolitical tensions, industry insiders hint that the US government would likely approve the launch of military space satellites or sensitive technologies via India rather than China, providing India with a strategic edge.

The Indian space-tech industry is rapidly becoming a hub for venture capital, attracting USD 120 million in the previous year alone, highlighted Dr Srimathy Kesan, CEO of SpaceKidz.

On the heels of this landmark partnership, France, a long-standing ally of India, is doubling down on its collaborative efforts. Following a strategic dialogue between National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and French President Emmanuel Macron’s advisor Emmanuel Bonne, France has also offered to aid India in its defence and space initiatives.

France’s proposal to construct additional Scorpene submarines for the Indian Navy comes alongside discussions for a potential government-to-government agreement to procure Rafale Marine aircraft for Indian Navy. The deal, if materialised, would demonstrate a firm commitment to India’s maritime security amidst growing naval power competition in the Indian Ocean region.

Perhaps the most significant proposal from France is the commitment to co-develop and transfer 100 percent technology for a high-thrust jet engine with Safran, a French engine manufacturer. This offer starkly contrasts the limited technology transfer accompanying similar US deals, showcasing France’s faith in Indian capabilities.

France’s proposition also includes a centre of excellence in gas turbine technology in India, further fostering indigenous capabilities and strengthening bilateral ties. Notably, France’s stance as a reliable defence supplier contrasts with the somewhat fraught history of India-US defence transactions during crisis situations.

The collaboration with France extends to nuclear and space sectors as well. French support was pivotal during India’s nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998, highlighting their consistent commitment to the partnership. In the arena of space technology, the collaboration has catalysed India’s independent launch capabilities, with Arianespace emerging as a preferred agency for launching Indian satellites.

The dawn of these partnerships with France and the US is projected to be a game-changer for India, accelerating its strategic capabilities and forging a new era of defence cooperation. The outcomes of these collaborations will likely have significant implications on the global stage, with India at the forefront of this transformative shift.

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