By Staff Correspondent
Ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has given preliminary approval for procuring three Scorpene class submarines in addition to 26 Rafale fighter jets. This multi-billion-euro defence agreement with French manufacturers bolsters India’s ambitions to rapidly modernise its armed forces, a source close to the matter informed Reuters on Thursday.
India, being one of the most significant importers of French weaponry, continues its defence enhancement trajectory, with the addition of these assets to be built by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders (MDL) in partnership with France’s Naval Group. This comes as the latest addition to a series of purchases, including a landmark €4 billion agreement for 36 Rafale jets in 2015.
As PM Modi embarks on a two-day diplomatic tour of France, the significance of the timing of this approval is not lost. It aligns with India’s strategic objectives amidst increasing apprehensions about China’s territorial ambitions along the Himalayan border.
Modi, the second Indian Prime Minister to be honoured as the Guest of Honour at the Bastille Day Parade following Dr Manmohan Singh in 2009, will use this platform to advance the next phase of India-France strategic cooperation. The broad spectrum includes areas of cultural, scientific, academic, and economic cooperation, as per Sunil Prasad, Secretary General of the Europe India Chamber of Commerce.
ANI reports highlight the integral role France plays as an Indo-Pacific nation. Modi’s diplomatic visit aims to fortify the collaboration between the two nations in a region where France maintains overseas territories and an exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Both India and France share a commitment to a free, open, and rules-based order, underscored by adherence to international law, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, freedom of navigation, and fostering a region devoid of coercion, tensions, and conflicts, according to a Media India Group report.
France, home to the fourth-largest Indian diaspora in Europe, continues to make strides in attracting Indian students and professionals. An existing bilateral agreement on migration and mobility cooperation between the two nations aims to ease migration based on skill mobility and return policies. This signals a more comprehensive, strategic relationship that extends beyond defence cooperation.