Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh travels to Paris today for a three-day visit to receive the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets.
After a ceremony on Monday—the foundation day of the Indian Air Force (IAF)—Singh will hold talks with defence officials in the French government on ways to further deepen defence and security cooperation between the two countries.
Military relations between France and India have been marked by ambitious bilateral military contracting and joint exercises. For example, under New Delhi’s “Make in India” program—a scheme designed to bolster manufacturing in India—India has encouraged transfers of military technology from French developers to Indian industry. Under this program, India constructed the first conventional submarine for its navy, Scorpene.
With the conclusion of the Rafale deal, expect Singh and French officials to begin discussions of what the next step in fostering bilateral military relations will be—potentially another defence contract or plans for a joint naval exercise. Regardless of what is agreed, expect Indian leadership to continue promoting the country as a manufacturing hub with a formidable military infrastructure. Whether it will eventually begin competing with France for contracts remains to be seen.
Nick is the Director of the Daily Brief and a contributing Senior Analyst to it. An attorney, his areas of expertise include international law, international and domestic criminal law, security affairs in Europe and the Middle East, and human rights.