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India and France ink defence deal after Macron’s Delhi visit

France’s president Emmanuel Macron attends the French community meeting at the French Embassy in New Delhi (AFP via Getty Images)
France’s president Emmanuel Macron attends the French community meeting at the French Embassy in New Delhi (AFP via Getty Images)

India and France have agreed to work together on the joint production of helicopters, submarines, and other defence equipment for the Indian Army following Narendra Modi and Emmaneul Macron’s meeting in New Delhi on Friday.

Both nations also agreed on defence production for friendly countries.

India’s top conglomerate Tata Group and Europe’s Airbus have inked an agreement to jointly manufacture civilian helicopters.

India’s foreign secretary Vinay Kwatra said: “Industrial partnership (signed) between Tata and (France-based) Airbus Helicopters for production of H125 helicopters with a significant indigenous and localisation component.”

Airbus also announced the final assembly line (FAL) for helicopters and said the machines will be exported indirectly to India, using its neighbouring nations.

“The FAL will take 24 months to set up, and deliveries… are expected to commence in 2026,” Airbus said.

The French president visited India as a guest of honour for New Delhi’s Republic Day celebrations in a grand spectacle hosted on Friday. He also attended a state banquet hosted by president Draupadi Murmu where the deal on new defence productions was reached, the government said in a statement on Friday evening.

The two leaders also agreed to expand the continuing bilateral ties in defence production sector, nuclear energy, space research and the use of artificial intelligence for public services like climate change, health and agriculture, the statement added.

The value of any of the deals, including the joint production of the helicopters and submarines, has not been immediately confirmed.

France is India’s decades-old ally with mutual diplomatic associations with the Western powers like the US and the UK. France is also India’s second-largest arms supplier after Russia.

The bilateral summit during Mr Macron’s latest India visit spanning 40 hours was his fifth meeting with the Indian prime minister since May last year.

India and France agreed to intensify cooperation in the southwest Indian Ocean, building on joint surveillance missions carried out from the French island territory of La Reunion in 2020 and 2022, the government statement said.

Mr Macron also said France would create conditions to attract up to 30,000 Indian students a year for higher education.