India and France have signed a prestigious and ambitious Defence and Space Agreement that could see the two countries to launch military satellites for dual purposes, namely offensive and defensive capabilities, people familiar with the matter said.
The deal not publicized or spoken of was signed by French Defence Minister Sebastien Locornu and India’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval on January 26, 2024, even as the French President Emmanuel Macron was attending the At Home Republic Day reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan along with PM Narendra Modi.
Letter of Intent
The Letter of Intent (LoI) on the Defence Space Partnership signed between the two countries opens the door for the two allies to partner in the area of space defence and to build defence capabilities and operational capabilities for better global situational awareness, protection of communication and satellites and making the battle field more transparent in air, land and the sea.
While the Modi government is tight lipped about the defence and space partnership with France, India’s one of the oldest civilian space partners, the LoI paves the way for both nations space agencies of the two countries to jointly develop and launch military satellites to protect national security interests. The military satellites will not only secure India’s space assets in the worst-case scenario, but also track the movement of adversaries.
The French President conveyed to his Indian interlocuters that there are no limits to French support to India in defence including designing, developing, manufacturing and certification of new platforms that will be specifically built to suit the requirements of the two countries.
“India and France have decided to invest in a long-term relationship with the two countries on the same page politically on the Houthis and thr Gaza War with nuanced difference over the Ukraine war given that France is a part of the EU said a top interlocuter speaking on the condition of anonymity.
During the French President’s two-day visit to India, PM Modi laid out the red carpet for Macron with External Affairs Minister Subramaniam Jaishankar accompanying him everywhere, from arrival to departure. After the roadshow in Jaipur, Macron was amazed to find growing grow incumbency for PM Modi even after a decade at the helm.
India-France Multi-Dimensional Cooperation
With the global situation volatile from Morocco to Iran due to the Gaza War and in Southeast Asia due to the hegemony of China, India and France have decided to support each other based on independent foreign policy and strategic autonomy. France has also activated a five-year Schengen visa scheme for the Indian youth to get access to the best of skills in French universities.
France is willing to support India in developing top of the line defence platforms such as fighter aircraft engines, nuclear attack submarines and underwater drones, all locally made and the defence industrial roadmap announced by both leaders will not only make India self-reliant in the long run, but also India’s dependency on foreign imports. The two countries have also decided to manufacture in Indi and export to third world countries.
During the visit, President Macron made it clear to his accompanying Foreign, Defence and Cultures Ministers that there should be no hurdles in India-France ties and that India should be allowed access to all top-of-the-line French technologies without any prejudice or reservations.