French defence cos ‘to adapt to Make in India’
With India expected to spend over $200 billion in the next decade to modernise its military, French defence firms are eyeing a piece of the cake and are ready to “adapt” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ push. Though waiting for more clarity, French defence firms are scouting for partners as the new government in India pushes for indigenisation rather than buying off the shelf from foreign companies.
“Of course, if we had the choice we would rather prefer to build in our country but we have to adapt to the context. We know the trend is there. So the idea is more to see how to capture the trend,” Jerome Penicaud, Bid Manager Surface Ships and Naval Systems Division of French defence giant DCNS, told PTI.
He was candidly replying to a question whether DCNS was happy about ‘Make in India’ push or would it have preferred to build ships in France only. While DCNS is already building Scorpene submarines in India through their domestic partner Mazgaon Docks Ltd (MDL) in Mumbai, the next big project they are eyeing is the nearly Rs 16,000 crore amphibious warfare ships, called Landing Platform Docks (LPDs) project.
“For the LPD project, here the idea is that the ships are built by one of the Indian shipyards that has been selected. We are partners. We are here to bring the design and necessary technical assistance...That is the way we are addressing Make in India,” he said.
DCNS has tied up with Indian private shipyard Pipavav for this project. Other big project that DCNS is eyeing is the P75I of the Indian Navy under which six submarines will be built in India at a cost of about Rs 50,000 crore. Sources indicted that DCNS is likely to sign a deal with MDL for this project.
Another major project that the French firms will be bidding for is the Rs 15,570 crore proposal to acquire 814 artillery guns. While 100 such guns would be bought off the shelf, 714 would be made in India.
“It is one of the major deals that we can have around the world. You can imagine that for Nexter and our partner L&T, it is an important project,” said Jean-Michel Domitrovic, Executive Vice President of Nexter.
Without waiting for the formal tender — Request for Proposal, the French firm has already tied up with Larsen and Toubro and Ashok Leyland to produce the 155mm/52 calibre mounted gun system being called Indian Caesar. Asked how he sees the new government vis-a-vis the UPA, Domitrovic said the “problem” faced with the previous government was that it was difficult to know the decisions.
“With this new government we expect and we hope that decisions can be taken faster and we can have a better view of the acquisition process. Where we are, what is being planned for next month like that. It is very important for us,” he said. The Army has not bought artillery guns in three decades after the Bofors scam surfaced in 1986.
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