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Monday, April 22, 2024

France And USA Are Engaged In A Bitter Fight Over Indian Defence Sector Market

According to Indian military experts, France is aiming to secure valuable Indian defence contracts as a way to teach a lesson to its close ally, the United States (US), which is a big competitor to France in the global aviation market covering both civil and military aviation. Paris is reportedly making efforts to persuade New Delhi to halt a deal for GE jet engines of US origin and replace them with an agreement involving French aviation company Safran.

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By: Girish Linganna

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s success in concluding high valued defence deals during his visit to France on July 13 and 14 has led to the escalation of fighting between the United States and France over the sale of high tech defence equipment to the burgeoning Indian market.

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According to Indian military experts, France is aiming to secure valuable Indian defence contracts as a way to teach a lesson to its close ally, the United States (US), which is a big competitor to France in the global aviation market covering both civil and military aviation. Paris is reportedly making efforts to persuade New Delhi to halt a deal for GE jet engines of US origin and replace them with an agreement involving French aviation company Safran.

Military experts recently commented on a rift between France and the US, stemming from the US’s perceived “betrayal” in the Australian submarine matter. Last year in a sudden move, the Australian Government unilaterally announced the termination of a reportedly $ 66 billion contract for 12 new diesel electric submarines from Paris.

Following that, Australia announced the establishment of the AUKUS military alliance, which comprises three nations: the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), and themselves. This alliance represents a significant defence partnership in the Indo-Pacific region.

After formalizing the tripartite alliance, Australia opted to acquire nuclear-powered submarines from the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US).France criticized the development as “unacceptable behaviour between allies and partners,” with President Emmanuel Macron accusing the former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying about the situation while secretly holding talks with London and Washington.

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During the G20 summit in Rome in September, President Macron emphasized the importance of maintaining honesty and consistency in line with the value of respect. He made these remarks in response to Australia’s decision to backtrack on its commitment to procure submarines from France.

In the aftermath of this decision, France went a step further by recalling its ambassadors to the United States and Australia. Additionally, in the subsequent months, Canberra was required to pay a penalty of €550 million to Paris as compensation for the terminated agreement. In light of the situation, an ex-Indian military official with over three decades of service mentioned that the arms lobbies of both the United States and France hold significant influence.

The trade of weapons is an immensely profitable industry, and the arms lobbies within these nations exert considerable control over their respective political leadership. Consequently, their primary objective revolves around promoting and selling their own weaponry to India. When asked whether Paris was seeking retaliation against the US due to Safran’s offer of 100 percent technology transfer to New Delhi, which came shortly after reports of General Electric’s commitment to an 80 percent technology transfer on GE-414 engines for India’s indigenous LCA Tejas warplanes, the defence expert confirmed this to be the case.

It seems that France is attempting to deliver a message to the US: if you can cancel my submarine deal with Australia, I can disrupt your order of GE-414 jet engines from India. This appears to be a reciprocal response from French President Emmanuel Macron’s government to the administration of US leader Joe Biden.

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While acknowledging that Paris may be retaliating against Washington, the concerns of New Delhi are focused on securing the best possible deal. India’s priority lies in obtaining fighter plane engines of superior quality, durability, and ensuring technology transfer. The government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative is also crucial, aiming to develop these engines domestically and customize them to meet the specific requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF).

According veteran Indian military analysts, since New Delhi has received offers from both General Electric and Safran, the Indian government should request both companies to provide one engine each for field trials within India. This would enable the Indian Air Force (IAF) to assess and determine which engine is better suited to its specific requirements. Ex Military man emphasized that India cannot afford to compromise on the quality of engines for its warplanes, highlighting the significance of this decision.

Friction between NATO allies, specifically France and the US, has the potential to escalate due to defence contracts with India. If France’s Safran secures the order for manufacturing jet engines for the Indian Air Force’s fighter aircraft, sidelining the US, it would be a significant blow to the US arms lobby.

In response, the US arms lobby is unlikely to remain passive. They would likely retaliate and influence the Biden administration, leading to a conflict between the two nations. Such a conflict would impact the relationship and wartime cooperation between these NATO allies. Simultaneously, this will lead to US pressure on India.

New Delhi and Paris have zeroed in on two significant contracts, which have already been approved by India’s Defence Procurement Board. These contracts include the procurement of 26 Rafale-M’s for the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and three conventional diesel-electric submarines for the Indian Navy.

The acquisition aims to address the immediate and vital requirements of the Indian Navy for carrier-based fighter aircraft. This move will provide the added benefit of synergy with the existing fleet of 36 Rafale fighters that are already in service with the Indian Navy, streamlining operations and enhancing capabilities. The combined value of both deals is estimated to be $10.6 billion. Out of this amount, approximately $6.15 billion will be allocated for the purchase of Rafale-M aircraft, while the remaining portion will be used to acquire three Scorpene-class submarines. (IPA Service)

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The Hills Times
The Hills Timeshttps://www.thehillstimes.in/
The Hills Times, a largely circulated English daily published from Diphu and printed in Guwahati, having vast readership in hills districts of Assam, and neighbouring Nagaland, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
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