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France Trying to Teach US Lesson Through Indian Defense Contracts: Experts

© Brendan Smialowski India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with France's President Emmanuel Macron
 India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks with France's President Emmanuel Macron - Sputnik India, 1920, 13.07.2023
India and France are reportedly set to sign two mega defense deals worth billions of dollars during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Paris on July 13-14.
A "miffed" France is trying to teach a lesson to its close ally, the United States (US), by bagging lucrative Indian defense contracts, two Indian military experts told Sputnik on Thursday.
Paris is reportedly attempting to force New Delhi to suspend a deal for US-origined jet engines and instead sign an agreement with French aviation firm Safran.
The comments from Major General (Retd) S.P. Sinha and Lieutenant Colonel (Retd.) Jasinder Singh Sodhi came at a time when an alleged rift between France and the US has been brewing over America's "betrayal" concerning the Australian submarine deal.

France Calls Out America and Australia's 'Betrayal'

Last year, in a shock move, Canberra unilaterally announced the termination of a reported $66 billion contract for 12 new diesel-electric submarines from Paris.
This photo released on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015 by the French Army Communications Audiovisual office (ECPAD) shows French army Rafale fighter jets flying towards Syria as part of France's Operation Chammal launched in September 2015 in support of the US-led coalition against Islamic State group - Sputnik India, 1920, 10.07.2023
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Subsequently, the Oceania country announced the formation of the three-country military alliance AUKUS with the United Kingdom (UK) and the US forming the two remaining pillars of the defense grouping in the Indo-Pacific.
After formalizing the tripartite partnership, Australia decided to purchase nuclear-powered submarines from them.
France dubbed the development as "unacceptable behavior between allies and partners" with President Emmanuel Macron accusing the then-Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of lying about the whole situation as he was holding secret talks with London and Washington.
"I just say when we have respect, you have to be true and you have to behave in line and consistent with this value," Macron told reporters during the G20 summit in Rome in September, days after Australia reneged on its promise of acquiring subs from France.
Following the move, France even recalled its ambassador to the US and Australia. Besides, Canberra was forced to shell out €550 million as a penalty to Paris for the canceled deal in the following months.
Against this backdrop, Sinha - who served in the Indian Army for over three decades - stated that the arms lobbies of both America and France are very strong.
US B1 bomber dropping cluster bombs. - Sputnik India, 1920, 13.07.2023
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Selling weapons is a very lucrative business and arms lobbies in these countries dictate terms through their respective political leadership. Hence, it is all about selling their own products to India.

Elysee Palace Trying to Get Back at the White House

On being asked if Paris was trying to get back at the US after Safran offered 100 percent transfer of technology to New Delhi only weeks after US' General Electrics reportedly committed to 80 percent transfer of technology on GE-414 engines to be fitted into India's locally produced LCA Tejas warplanes, the defense expert replied in the affirmative.
"It appears that it may be true that France is trying to teach a lesson to the US that if you can cancel my submarine deal with Australia, I can snatch your order of GE-414 jet engines from India. Interestingly, it seems to be a tit-for-tat response from French President Emmanuel Macron's government to the US leader Joe Biden's administration," Sinha told Sputnik.

India's Concerns Regarding Defense Contracts From France, US

However, he noted that if Paris was attempting to hit back at Washington that was not New Delhi's concern.
On the contrary, India seeks to get the best deal in terms of quality of fighter plane engines, durability, and transfer of technology with an agreement on developing them under the government's 'Make in India' initiative and modifications to suit the requirements of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
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Sinha suggested that now that New Delhi has got two offers, the Indian government should ask both General Electric and Safran to offer one engine each to carry out field trials in India. This way, the IAF would be able to make a call on which engine is better suited to its requirements.
After all, India cannot compromise over the quality of engines for its warplanes, the former Indian Army officer stressed.

Friction Between NATO Allies Could Escalate

"Friction between NATO allies, France and the US, can escalate over defense contracts to India. You see, if France's Safran bags the order for manufacturing jet engines for IAF's fighter aircraft, pushing America out of the picture, it would be a big blow to the arms lobby of the US," Sinha commented.
He opined that if this happened, the US arms lobby would not take it lying down. It would retaliate and poison the ears of the Biden administration, and there's bound to be a conflict between the two nations, which would affect the relationship between the two NATO allies, including war-time cooperation.

Miffed France Playing a Game With US

On the other hand, Sodhi underlined that France is "miffed" with the US for the White House's role in the cancellation of its mega submarine deal with Australia.
"In March 2023, Canberra signed a contract with Washington to get three nuclear submarines from the US to begin with, in a deal reportedly valued over $200 billion over 30 years. This has infuriated France and hence France is sparing no opportunity to spar with the US," Sodhi said in an interaction with Sputnik.
A Germany Army Leopard 2A6 main battle tank takes part in the Lithuanian-German military exercise 'Griffin Storm 2023' at a training range in Pabrade, some 60km (38 miles) north of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania on Monday, June 26, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 12.07.2023
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During his state visit to China in April, Macron remarked that "Europe must resist pressure to become USA's followers", once again bringing to the fore that all was not well between USA and France.
Earlier this month, France stone-walled NATO's proposal to open a liaison office in Japan.
"As France readies to have more defense deals with India, it is clear that in its one-upmanship with the US, it will offer a largesse of defense deals to India with a clear aim of down-sizing America as a major defense supplier to India," Sodhi reasoned.

Other Deals on the Table During Modi-Macron Talks

While Safran's offer to make jet engines in India with a proposal of 100 percent transfer of technology is expected to be one of the points of discussion between Modi and Macron, talks on this subject are unlikely to be concluded during the former's sojourn in the French capital.
Instead, New Delhi and Paris plan to announce the signing of two big-ticket contracts - for 26 Rafale-Ms for the indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vikrant and three conventional diesel-electric submarines, both for the Indian Navy.
India's Defense Procurement Board has already approved both deals.
NATO heads of state and government pose during a group photo at a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, Tuesday, July 11, 2023. - Sputnik India, 1920, 12.07.2023
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The acquisition is being made to "satisfy the urgent and critical needs of the Indian Navy for carrier-based combat aircraft and will have the advantage of unification with the 36 Rafale fighters already in service with the Indian Navy."
Both the deals together are estimated to be worth $10.6 billion with the Rafale-Ms costing approximately $6.15 billion while the remaining amount is to be paid for three Scorpene-class submarines.
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