Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba has began a six-day visit to France to explore new avenues of cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries. Admiral Lanba will meet French Defence Minister Florence Parly and will hold talks with Chief of Defence Staff General Francois Lecointre and Chief of French Navy Admiral Christophe Prazuck, the Navy said in a statement. “The visit aims to consolidate cooperation between the armed forces of both India and France and also to explore new avenues of defence cooperation,” it said. Admiral Lanba, during his November 5-10 visit, will also visit the French Airbase at Landivisiau where he will be briefed on the operational employability of the Rafale aircraft by the French Air Force.
In September last year, India had signed an Euro 7.87- billion (approx Rs 59,000 crore) deal with the French government for the purchase of 36 Rafale twin-engine fighter jets. The supply of Rafale jets is scheduled to start from September, 2019. Admiral Lanba’s visit to France comes 10 days after the French defence minister visited India during which both sides had decided to expand their military cooperation in the strategically key Indo-Pacific region, besides resolving to further ramp up the overall defence and security ties.
Admiral Lanba is also the chairman of the powerful chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) which comprises the Army, Navy and IAF chiefs. He will also be visiting the Maritime Prefectures at Brest and Cherbourg, and the French submarine facility at Cherbourg. Defence and security ties between India and France have witnessed an upward trajectory in the last few years. The two countries established a strategic partnership in 1998, enhancing bilateral cooperation in strategic areas such as defence, nuclear energy and space.
The Indian Navy cooperates with the French Navy on many issues, which include operational interactions such as the Varuna series of bilateral exercises. French shipbuilding major Naval Group, formerly DCNS, is part of the Indian Navy’s project P 75 under which six Scorpene submarines are being made in India with the transfer of technology from the French firm. Warships from Indian Navy have been regularly visiting ports at France.