France- India defence relations
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2019: Joint patrolling mission of Indian Ocean Region
After holding their biggest-ever Varuna naval exercise off Goa and Djibouti in May, India and France will soon launch a joint naval patrolling mission in the Indian Ocean Region to protect their strategic interests, said a top French military officer.
The navies from the two countries will also early next year ink a pact to share classified information for better operational cooperation in the region, said vice admiral Didier Malterre, commander of the French joint forces in IOR. “We are preparing to carry out joint patrol in southern Indian Ocean. India is planning to deploy its P-8I (long-range maritime patrol) aircraft,” he said. He also expressed concern over China expanding its maritime influence in the IOR.
Malterre said China had taken to deploying more and more assets in the IOR including destroyers, nuclear submarines and conventional submarines to ostensibly check piracy. “But submarines are not the best tool to fight piracy. So, there is another ambition behind it and we know that,” he said, indicating China had a bigger strategic aim behind its Belt and Road Initiative and the Hambantota port could well be used for “dual” purposes.
On the proposed India-French pact to facilitate sharing of classified information, he said it would be a rare occasion for his country to have such an arrangement with a non-Nato country.
With the two countries sharing the same political objectives in the IOR, the Indian and French navies have expanded the level and scope of their joint exercises to feature aircraft carriers, submarines and amphibious warships on a regular basis.
2021: ₹230-crore spare parts deal for Mirage-2000
In another instance of India going in for fighter jets retired by other nations to sustain its existing combat fleet, the IAF has inked a Rs 230-crore deal with France to acquire 24 airframes and equipment of old Mirage-2000 jets. The airframes will be used to cannibalise spares to improve operational availability of the three existing Mirage-2000 squadrons. TNN