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India-France Joint Defence Production

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India-France Joint Defence Production

The India-France Joint Defence Production initiative has solidified a significant partnership between the two nations, aiming to enhance defense industrial cooperation through various key projects and agreements. The Defense Industrial Cooperation roadmap emphasizes co-design, co-development, and co-production, aiming to strengthen defense supply chains and foster security partnerships with other nations. The alliance extends to niche domains like space and cyber, showcasing a forward-looking approach towards technological advancements in critical areas of national security. 

Howbeit, amidst evolving unrest in the Indo-Pacific, India, and France are thickening strategic ties. Though, both countries have recently agreed on joint defense production, to inflate bilateral ties in defense production, nuclear energy, space research, and the use of artificial intelligence for public services like climate change, health, and agriculture. In October 2023, India made a formal request to the French government to purchase 26 Rafale Marine aircraft for the Indian Navy, worth $6 billion.

Moreover, India’s Tata Group and France’s Airbus, have inked an agreement to manufacture civilian helicopters together. French jet engine maker (CFM), International also announced an agreement with India’s Akasa Air to buy more than 300 of its LEAP-1B engines to power 150 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. However, while defense trade remains a vital element, India and France are increasingly broadening the scope of their relationship to include shared geopolitical objectives in the Indo-Pacific.

One pivotal project under this initiative is the agreement with France’s Safran for the production of engines crucial for indigenous Indian helicopters, highlighting the benefits of co-development and the potential for exports to third countries. Moreover, the coalition in shipbuilding, including joint research for maritime operations and partnerships for supplying underwater systems for Indian submarines, underscores a thorough approach toward enhancing maritime security and capabilities.

The contracts for submarine and aircraft procurement, such as Scorpene-class submarines with air-independent propulsion and Rafale-Marine aircraft, demonstrate the depth of defense cooperation between India and France. Howbeit, pacts not only strengthen defense capabilities but also contribute to regional stability and security.  The expanding defense cooperation between India and France, especially in critical areas like submarine procurement, aircraft deals, and space collaboration, signifies a comprehensive approach toward enhancing maritime security and defense capabilities.

Furthermore, the heightened military prowess could potentially pose challenges for China, which has been mounting its influence and assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region. The strategic alliance between India and France, coupled with their shared intentions in upholding maritime security and a rule-based order, presents a formidable force that could potentially counterbalance China’s growing footprint in the region.

Furthermore, the Indo-French joint venture spotlight on strengthening plurilateral arrangements with countries like Australia and the UAE reflects a concerted effort to address shared concerns regarding China’s strong arm deeds in the region.  Although, expansion in defense cooperation, binding in joint military exercises, and prioritizing maritime security, India and France are positioning themselves as key players in shaping the regional security architecture. However, collaborative effort not only enhances defense capabilities but also contributes to fostering stability, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region amidst the evolving geopolitical landscape.

Moreover, the impact of this collaboration on the regional arms race is significant, as it enhances India’s defense capabilities and technological advancements, potentially posing challenges for rivals like Pakistan and China. The wired defense partnership between India and France could potentially influence the regional balance of power, prompting strategic responses from neighboring countries to maintain military competencies and regional influence amidst this evolving landscape.

Likewise, the cooperation between India and France in areas like submarine procurement, aircraft deals, and space cooperation signifies a comprehensive approach towards strengthening defense capabilities, which could have ripple effects on the regional armament dynamics. As India’s defense capabilities are bolstered through this partnership, it may prompt Pakistan and China to further invest in their defense sectors to ensure their military preparedness and strategic interests in the region.

India’s Expanding Power and Military Might

India’s military might have been on the rise, driven by its economic growth and strategic ambitions. The country has been increasing its military spending and acquiring advanced military equipment from both Western and Russian sources. This expansion in military capabilities has significant implications for regional stability in South Asia, where India’s growing power could impair existing tensions and potentially push the region further towards conflict.

The India-France Joint Defence Production agreement plays a crucial role in this expansion. The partnership focuses on co-production and co-development, particularly in the construction of submarines and naval vessels, which is a key aspect of India’s Atmanirbharata (self-reliance) policy.  The collaboration not only strengthens India’s military capabilities but also enhances its strategic autonomy, allowing it to counterbalance the influence of other major powers in the region, such as China.

The joint defense production agreement also contributes to India’s strategic partnership with France, which is a significant partnership in Europe and a key strategic partner for India. The partnership is marked by mutual respect for non-interference in internal affairs, non-alignment, and shared democratic values, and covers various domains such as civil nuclear energy, counterterrorism, space cooperation, green hydrogen, cyber security, digital technologies, artificial intelligence, and defense.

In the context of the Indo-Pacific region, India’s growing military capabilities and strategic partnerships with countries like France are important for maintaining regional stability and countering potential threats. The Indo-French Strategic Partnership-Horizon 2047, established during Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Paris, envisions enhanced cooperation between the two countries’ defense space agencies and focuses on space-based Maritime Domain Awareness as a potential area for collaboration.

Strengthening Strategic Partnership and Regional Security

The India-France Joint Defence Production agreement will significantly enhance the strategic partnership between the two countries and bolster regional security in the Indo-Pacific area. The partnership, based on mutual respect for non-interference, non-alignment, and shared democratic values, is one of India’s key strategic alliances in Europe. It focuses on co-production and co-development of submarines and naval vessels, reflecting India’s emphasis on self-reliance in defense. Additionally, it includes cooperation in various areas such as nuclear energy, counterterrorism, space collaboration, cyber security, and artificial intelligence.

The partnership, which spans historical connections, strategic alliances, and defense cooperation, is particularly important in the Indo-Pacific region, where India’s strong navy makes it a valuable ally for France. The collaboration also aims to address shared concerns about China’s assertive behavior internationally. The unveiling of the India-France Indo-Pacific Roadmap in July 2023 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Paris demonstrated a commitment to strengthening plurilateral arrangements with countries like Australia and the UAE to counter China’s coercive actions in the region. 

In Conclusion, the India-France Joint Defence Production initiative holds the capacity to disturb the equilibrium of power in the Indo-Pacific region through the enhancement of India’s military capabilities, the cultivation of strategic alliances, and the counteraction of China’s assertive conduct. The cooperative endeavors between India and France, founded on mutual goals in maritime security and defense modernization, are expected to reshape the power dynamics in the region and impact the strategic decision-making of significant actors involved. The India-France Joint Defence Production agreement is a significant factor in India’s expanding power and military might. This collaboration not only strengthens India’s defense capabilities but also contributes to its strategic autonomy, allowing it to counterbalance the influence of other major powers in the region. The partnership is a crucial component of India’s strategic partnership with France and plays a vital role in maintaining regional stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Zubair Mumtaz
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Zubair Mumtaz a Conflict Analyst and M.Phil. Scholar at National Defence University. Currently, he is an author at (Eurasia Review and Stratheia), also a Research Associate at Radiant Journal Foundation. The author explores the complexities of regional/Global dynamics, offering insightful perspectives on security issues and conflict.

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