Singh’s declaration comes a day after holding an annual defence conversation in New Delhi with his French counterpart Florence Parly. The French Minister for the Armed Forces urged French defence industries to engage with Indian firms or manufacture in India.
The French defence corporation Safran and India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited are said to be in talks to jointly produce a new engine to power India’s aspirations for its own medium-weight military helicopters to meet the demand of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. It was previously stated that France had proposed the M88 engine to resurrect plans to create the indigenous Kaveri jet engine for the Indian Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas fighter programme, which used GE engines.
According to a defence official, discussions were ongoing with Safran of France to build the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) engine, the same power plant.
The government has informed Parliament that it intends to collaborate with an International Engine House to build indigenous engines for powering aircraft such as the LCA variants and the AMCA. The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO had been in discussions with major engine manufacturers.
In 2016, New Delhi secured a large defence agreement with France for 36 Rafale fighter jets at Indian rupees 59,000 crore ($9.4 billion). France has delivered 33 of the planes so far.
The French minister offered India more Rafale fighters, mentioned India’s plans for a second aircraft carrier, and said, “We know that aircraft carrier will soon be delivered and aircraft are needed. So we are open and ready to provide any other Rafale if this is India’s decision.”
The Navy issued a request for proposals for 57 twin-engine carrier-based fighters, and the bids are being reviewed. This competition is between the Boeing F-18 Super Hornet and the Dassault Rafale. However, given the DRDO’s new indigenous Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter programme, the Navy will lower the number to 24.
France reportedly promised to outsource extra work to manufacture an engine that drives its Rafale warplanes if India ordered 36 more planes.
The current M88 variants used on the Rafale have a maximum thrust of around 75kN. According to rumours, Safran was searching for financing to create a variation of the M88 with over 90KN of thrust, which would improve the Rafale’s take-off and flight characteristics, particularly at high altitudes and in hot weather. Some of these claims were specifically related to the UAE’s requirement for the Rafale to carry a large payload of weaponry. Surprisingly, the UAE announced a contract to purchase 80 Rafale jets, the fighter’s largest export order.
Last month, the Indian government punished Dassault Aviation for missing offset commitments connected to a 2016 agreement for 36 Rafale warplanes. French industrialists had complained about the Indian industry’s inability to handle modern technologies.