India, France Step Up Military Systems Manufacturing

By BridgeNews India and France have identified 54 major armaments systems for joint production in the coming year, a defense-ministry spokesperson said July 12. The two countries jointly produced 15 systems last year; they formed a joint defense committee two years ago. Sources in the ministry said the systems to be jointly produced in India include attack submarines, avionics, air-to-air missiles, and weapons guidance and sub-systems. The spokesperson, unidentified by reporting group Agence France-Presse, declined to confirm specifics but said the stepped-up cooperation followed a slew of military visits between India and France. The latest was the July 5-7 visit of a top-level Indian team, including the three service chiefs, to France. The team visited the French submarine plant at Cherbourg and had talks with several officials. Indian submarine lines have been idle since the last of the four indigenously produced German SSK class submarines rolled out in 1997. France is in the race for a US$1.6 billion contract to supply advanced jet trainers (AJTs) to the Indian Air Force. British Aerospace, with its "Hawk" jet trainer and France's Dassault Aviation with the "Alphajet" have emerged as the two main contenders to supply 66 military AJTs to the technology-starved Indian air force. In recent years France has been emerging as a potential rival to Russia as a supplier of military hardware to India.

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