War-obsessed India set its sights on buying more submarines and jets.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving for France on Thursday to deepen ties with New Delhi’s oldest strategic partner in the West, with a number of high-profile defense deals expected.
Modi has been invited by French President Emmanuel Macron as the chief guest at the Bastille Day celebrations. Units from India’s army, navy and air force will also take part in the parade, including among the 36 Rafale fighter jets that India bought in 2015 for about $9 billion.
According to a foreign news agency, the Indian government said in a statement on Wednesday that the visit will provide an opportunity to shape future partnerships in various fields such as strategic, cultural, scientific, academic and economic cooperation.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the strategic partnership between the two countries and the announcement of new military deals will fuel the deepening defense ties between the two countries.
France has been one of India’s closest partners in Europe for decades. Paris was the only Western capital that did not impose sanctions on New Delhi after India’s nuclear tests in 1998.
Ten years later, when India received a Nuclear Suppliers Group exemption for its civil nuclear projects, France was the first country to sign an agreement.
India has been dependent on French fighter jets for four decades now. India bought Mirage jets in the 1980s, long before Dassault Aviation bought the Rafale in 2015, which still comprises two squadrons of the air force.
In 2005, India bought six Scorpion-class diesel submarines from France for 188 billion rupees ($2.28 billion) built in India in partnership with the French Naval Group.
Official sources in New Delhi and Paris said India is expected to buy three more Scorpion submarines that will again form the MDL and Naval Group, but the price of the deals is yet to be agreed.
India may also agree to buy 26 Rafale jets, the sources said, without specifying the expected price of the deal.