India and France on Thursday concluded negotiations on a deal expected to be worth around Rs 30,000 crore for co-developing a short-range air defence system even as French President Francois Hollande made a fresh push for the sale of Rafale fighter jets to India.
“Both sides noted the ongoing progress of negotiations on the Medium-Multirole Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA) programme and look forward to their conclusion... steps are being taken for finalisation of the Short-range Surface to Air Missile(SR-SAM) project,” India and France said in a joint statement.
“Discussions on the M-MRCA contract are progressing well. We have also concluded negotiations on the SR-SAM, which, once approved by the Government, will be co-developed and co-produced in India,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said.
Under the M-MRCA contract, India has selected the French Rafale combat aircraft for the deal expected to be worth over Rs 50,000 crore and the two sides are in the commercial negotiations stage.
“There is a welcome shift from defence trade to co-development and co-production of advanced defence items in India, which will help expand our domestic production base and strengthen the India-France strategic partnership,” he said.
In the SR-SAM project, Indian DRDO and French MBDA would co-develop an air defence system to take out enemy missiles and aircraft attacking vital installations and buildings.
In the meeting between Dr Singh and Mr. Hollande, the “leaders agreed to give further impetus to the strategic partnership.”
“The leaders reaffirmed their continued interest to enhance bilateral cooperation which is an important pillar of their strategic partnership and reflects their common determination to work for global peace and security,” it said.
The two countries welcomed the ongoing military exercises including, Shakti, Varuna and Garuda and confirmed their willingness to further bilateral defence cooperation, by continuing to conduct such interactions, it said.
India has had strong defence ties with Farnce and several ongoing projects such as the construction of the Scorpene submarine in Mumbai and upgrade of Mirage-2000 aircraft are going on.