New Delhi: France and India are set to hold NSA-level talks on Thursday. At the meeting, France President Emmanuel Macron’s diplomatic adviser Emmanuel Bonne will meet National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval in the national capital. (Also read: Attempted Break-in at Rafale Training at Paris)
A leading daily pointed out that France wants to sell 36 more Rafale jets to India apart from other defence equipment like helicopters for the Navy. In fact, the report says, this will be among the key points on the agenda for the meeting.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is also expected to visit France in the latter half of September for the handing over of the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets and Indian Air Force pilots will be trained in France before the Rafale aircraft are sent to India.
Besides the first batch of 36 Rafale aircraft, France is interested in bagging procurement order for another batch of 36 more, sources said. Terms and conditions of the next batch are yet to be confirmed, but it is expected to have a “Make in India” component. The first batch is being procured in a “flyaway condition”.
France is also looking at selling helicopters for the Coast Guard and the Navy, besides submarines and new engines for jet fighters, among the next set of defence equipment. The new helicopters for the Coast Guard will be Caracal and those for the Navy will be Panther. The daily says that the two sides were close to signing the orders for new Caracal helicopters for the Coast Guard last year but it did not fructify as New Delhi was not to keen to do so before the Lok Sabha elections this summer.
Doval and Bonne are also likely to discuss opportunities for collaboration on defence, nuclear, security and space.