India and France are committed to strengthening defence industrial cooperation
Nothing exemplifies the robust defence ties between India and France better than the sight of Rafale fighter jets from the Indian Air Force flying alongside those from the French air force during bilateral and multilateral engagements.
Now, the India-France defence relationship is set to receive a further boost during French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to India later this week as Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations. There are indications that bilateral discussions between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Macron could lead to finalisation of some major ongoing defence-related projects.
These include the purchase of Rafale aircraft (Marine) for the Indian Navy's aircraft carriers and Scorpene Submarines under the P-75 Project. 
Meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in New Delhi on September 10, 2023, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated their commitment to strengthen the defence cooperation through partnership in design, development, testing and manufacture of advanced defence technologies and platforms, and expand production in India, including for third countries in Indo-Pacific and beyond. 
They also called for early finalisation of the India-France Defence Industrial Roadmap.
Rafale Fighter Aircraft a Game-changer in More Ways Than One
In October 2023, India formally communicated to France its decision to procure 26 naval variants of the Rafale fighter aircraft manufactured by Dassault Aviation for the Indian Navy's aircraft carriers INS Vikrant and INS Vikramaditya. 
This followed the earlier approval of the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. During its meeting on July 14, 2023, the DAC granted Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) for procurement of 26 Rafale Marine aircraft along with associated ancillary equipment, weapons, simulator, spares, documentation, crew training and logistic support for the Indian Navy from the French Government based on Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA). 
The Indian Air Force already operates 36 Rafale fighter jets. The first five Rafale aircraft arrived at Air Force Station, Ambala from France on July 27, 2020. They were formally inducted in the Indian Air Force 17 Squadron 'Golden Arrows'. The rest arrived in batches thereafter. Another 18 Rafale aircraft were later inducted in the 101 Squadron based in Hasimara, close to Bhutan. 
The Government of India and the Government of French Republic had signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement on September 23, 2016 for purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in fly-away condition. 
P-75 Scorpene Submarine Project
In 2005, India and France finalised a deal for the construction of six diesel-electric attack submarines in India through a License Agreement as part of Project-75 (P75). India's Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited Limited (MDL) entered into a partnership with France's Naval Group (formerly DCNS) to build these submarines with P-75 Scorpene submarine design under an intricate process for transfer of technology.
According to the Naval Group, this "versatile and high-endurance submarine" can carry out missions both in the open ocean and in coastal waters. Extremely stealthy and fast, it has a level of operating automation that allows the crew to be limited to 25, which reduces its operating costs significantly.
The Scorpene submarines are also equipped with both long-range guided torpedoes as well as anti-ship missiles. These submarines have a state-of-the-art SONAR suite and sensor suite permitting outstanding operational capabilities.
On July 14, 2023, the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister Singh granted the AoN for procurement of three additional Scorpene submarines under Buy (Indian) category which will be constructed by MDL. 
"The procurement of additional submarines, with higher indigenous content, will not only help in maintaining required force level and operational readiness of the Indian Navy, but also create significant employment opportunities in the domestic sector. It will also help the MDL in further enhancing its capability and expertise in submarine construction," the Ministry of Defence said.
Next Generation Engines for Fighters, Helicopters

India and France are pursuing new areas of collaboration like industrial cooperation for the co-development of next generation engines for fighter planes and helicopters. 
During talks between Prime Minister Modi and President Macron in Paris on July 14, 2023, the two sides agreed to extend their defence cooperation in the development of advanced aeronautical technologies by supporting the joint manufacturing of a combat aircraft engine.
Last year, Safran Helicopter Engines, France and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) announced the decision to set up a new joint venture company in Bangalore, India for the design, development, production, sales and support of helicopter engines. This will be India’s first engine design and manufacturing in house.
In a press statement, the two entities said the "first objective" was to build the most adequate propulsion solution for the Indian Ministry of Defence’s (MoD's) future 13-ton IMRH (Indian Multi-Role Helicopter) and its naval version DBMRH (Deck Based Multi-Role Helicopter). 
"The collaboration by the Indian and French Aerospace majors is clearly supporting the development of the aerospace strategic roadmap between the two countries while once again endorsing the Indian Government’s vision of “Atmanirbhar Bharat” - particularly in defence technologies," the two organisations said in a press statement on July 14, 2023.
Safran Helicopter Engines and HAL already have multiple successful partnerships on helicopter powerplants, including the Shakti engine, which powers HAL-produced helicopters, comprising the Dhruv, Rudra and the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH Prachand).
Strengthening Technology Cooperation Between India and France

In 2023, the Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) opened an office in the Indian Embassy in Paris for strengthening the technology cooperation between India and France. 
Defence cooperation between the two sides is reviewed under the Annual Defence Dialogue at the Defence Minister level and the High Committee on Defence Cooperation at the Secretary level. The 5th Annual Ministerial-level Annual Defence Dialogue was held on October 11, 2023 in Paris. The HCDC meeting was held in Paris in November 2021.