By Ranvir Nayar
France has agreed ‘in principle’ to India’s request for a crucial internal guidance technology to be provided by French company Safran (Sagem) for the BrahMos missiles.
The issue was discussed in a bilateral meeting between the French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian and visiting Indian Minister of State for Defence Production Rao Inderjit Singh at a meeting in Paris on Wednesday.
Singh told Media India Group in an exclusive interview in Paris that he had already discussed the issue with the senior management of Sagem, which of course had agreed to provide the technology, if the French government gave its permission.
“Following this, I raised the issue with the French minister and he told me that he did not see a problem in this technology being given to BrahMos and now Sagem will have to apply for the permission to the French government for the technology transfer to happen,” a confident Singh said.
Singh pointed out that Sagem would not be transferring the technology to the Indian government but to BrahMos, which is an Indo-Russian joint venture, even though the navigation system is for missiles of below 300 km range.
The two sides also discussed the progress in the Rafale deal, which has acquired real pace and a sense of urgency following the surprise announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at his joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande in Paris in April to buy 36 aircraft.
“The governments on both sides have agreed on the broad terms of the deal and now it is upto the negotiating teams on both sides to finalise all the details. I am confident that the final deal will be reached within three months,” Singh said, echoing the confidence expressed by Le Drian at the ongoing Paris Airshow on Tuesday about a rapid conclusion to the negotiations. Le Drian is slated to visit New Delhi shortly in connection with the Rafale deal.
Singh also held discussions with the Israeli delegation, which has a big presence at the 51st edition of the world’s largest air show.
“We have requested the Israel government for some technologies for our defence requirement. The Israelis have also agreed in principle, but they want to work out the details of who the technology transfer would be done with. They are very particular about it and are fine with a government-to-government deal but perhaps not so keen on transferring technologies to individual companies. So these aspects need to be worked out,” Singh added.
Intensifying defence collaboration with Israel would certainly figure high up during the forthcoming visit of Modi to Israel.