India, France meeting on defence cooperation next week

New Delhi(IANS) : Joint exercises, high-level visits, transfer of technology and activities relating to co-development and co-production will be discussed at the 10th meeting of the Indo-French High Committee on Defence Cooperation here Dec 17-18.

Defence Secretary Vijay Singh and Thierry Borja de Mozota, the representative of the French defence minister, will co-chair the meeting.

Support TwoCircles

The meeting comes against the backdrop of the Indian defence ministry cancelling an Indian Army tender for 197 Eurocopter Fennec light helicopters that are manufactured by a company formed by the merger of German DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (DASA) and the helicopter divisions of French Aérospatiale.

The ministry cited irregularities in the selection process for cancelling the proposed deal.

This hiccup apart, the French Rafale is one of the six contenders for an Indian Air Force (IAF) order for 126 multi-role combat jets.

India-France military-to-military ties have been steadily rising over the last decade, with their air forces and navies regularly staging joint drills.

There have also been a series of high-level interactions, with French Navy chief Admiral Alain Oudot de Dainville visiting India Dec 8-12. Earlier, French Army chief Gen. Bruno Cuche visited India Nov 26-30.

A bilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) on supply of defence equipment was signed with France in January 1982 when India purchased the Mirage-2000 combat jets for the IAF.

The MoU was aimed at the uninterrupted supply of defence equipment, services and related technology from France to India. A Defence Cooperation Working Group was also set up and it met regularly until 1995 when this was interrupted because of the reported French move to sell Mirage-2000s to Pakistan.

Subsequently, as a result of the initiative of then French president Jacques Chirac during his visit to India in 1998, a government-to-government agreement was reached and cooperation in the field of defence was revitalized.

Following this, the Indo-French High Committee on Defence Cooperation meets every year, alternatively in India and France.

There are three sub-committees under the High Committee.

The sub-committee on military cooperation has representatives from the headquarters of the Integrated Defence Services and the three Services. The second sub-committee deals with strategic issues and the third with defence industry procurement, as also research and technology.

“The sub-committee on military cooperation will roll out plans for service-to-service activities for the coming year while the sub-committee on strategic issues will discuss matters relating to regional issues,” a defence ministry release Thursday said.

“The third sub-committee will discuss issues like transfer of technology, joint development and production,” the release added.