As India celebrates its 75th Republic Day, the event is set to be graced by the presence of French President Emmanuel Macron, symbolising the deepening ties between India and France, especially in the realm of defence cooperation.
This collaboration is evident in the array of French military hardware used by the Indian Armed Forces, from Mirage fighter jets in the Indian Air Force (IAF) to the jointly manufactured Shakti engine that powers the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) Prachand, and the newly inducted Scorpene submarines of the Indian Navy (IN).
Here is a rundown of the joint defence projects that India and France are working on:
(1) Helicopter Engines for medium lift helicopter (IMRH/DB-MRH)
India and France are working on developing a high-powered turboshaft engine to power India's in-development Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH) and Deck-based Multi Role Helicopter (DB-MRH).
Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Safran, a major French engine manufacturer, signed this agreement on the sidelines of Aero India in February 2023. The agreement aims to transfer breakthrough technologies and critical know-how for developing the core – the heart of the engine, which was previously denied to HAL.
Moreover, Safran and HAL will manufacture these engines in a joint facility in Goa, inaugurated in March 2022, and will also overhaul them at a newly inaugurated maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility, also located in Goa.
(2) A Clean Sheet 110 KN jet engine for AMCA
When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited France as a Chief Guest for the Bastille Day parade last year (July 2023), an agreement was announced wherein DRDO and Safran will decide a roadmap for the development of a clean sheet high-thrust low-bypass 110 KN jet engine for Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) Mk-2 fighter jet.
This engine will be a clean sheet design and will involve a 100 percent transfer of technology (ToT), including joint ownership of intellectual property rights (IPR) for the critical technologies developed for the engine.
(3) Air-Independent Propulsion for Scorpene submarines
France will also help DRDO in the integration of an Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) module on the six French Scorpene submarines already in use by the Indian Navy.
The integration of the AIP module on the first Scorpene submarine, INS Kalvari, is likely to begin this year (2024) when it goes under its first refit.
Moreover, India is also expected to sign a deal to buy three more advanced Scorpene submarines from France to add to the earlier six, taking the total inventory to nine.
Editorial Associate at Swarajya. Writes on Indian Military and Defence.
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