New Delhi, Apr 16 (PTI) The Indian and French defence and aerospace industries associations today signed a memorandum of understanding to promote partnerships between the companies of the two countries.

A statement by Groupement des Industries Francaises A ronautiques et Spatiales (GIFAS), the French Aerospace Industries Association, said it signed the MoU with the Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) in the field of aerospace and defence.

The MoU will allow the implementation of measures to promote a mutually beneficial cooperation in aerospace and defence manufacturing, research and technology, human capital, engineering services, systems integration.

“The signing of this MoU between our two bodies is an excellent opportunity to develop the cooperation between France and India and shape the aerospace and defence industry of the future,” GIFAS managing director Pierre Bourlot and SIDM director general Subrata Saha said after signing the MoU.

Speaking at a seperate event, Eric Trappier, CEO of Dassault Aviation, which manufactures Rafale, said France has been very transparent in the pricing of the fighter jet with India and some parts of the deal have to be kept secret.

Congress had alleged a “scam” in the defence deal.

Trappier said Dassault has an advantage in the new multi-billion Indian fighter jet procurement plan floated by India.

Last week, the Indian Air Force initiated the procurement of 110 fighter aircraft for its depleted combat force now languishing at 31 fighter squadrons against a desired strength of 42.

Trappier said his company won the last time on performance and cost, and it can do it again.

In 2015, the NDA government scrapped a USD 20-billion medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) project to acquire 126 fighters, in which Rafale had emerged winner.

Later, in an inter-governmental deal, India bought 36 Rafale fighters from France in a euro 7.8 billion contract with Dassault that requires Rafale deliveries to commence in June 2019.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.