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India, Italy sign defence agreement

India and Italy have cemented their defense cooperation with the signing of a significant agreement. The agreement, signed during the official visit of India’s Defense Minister, Rajnath Singh, to Italy, encompasses various aspects of security and defense collaboration.

Areas of Cooperation

The agreement outlines the following key areas of bilateral cooperation:

  • Security and Defense Policy: India and Italy will collaborate on defining and shaping security and defense policies.
  • Research and Development: Joint efforts will be made in research and development projects related to defense technology and innovation.
  • Education in the Military Field: Both nations will promote educational exchanges and partnerships in military training and knowledge sharing.
  • Maritime Domain Awareness: Enhancing awareness and security in maritime domains will be a focus of the cooperation.
  • Sharing of Defense Information: India and Italy will exchange crucial defense information to strengthen their defense capabilities.
  • Industrial Cooperation: The two nations will work together on co-development, co-production, and establishing joint ventures in the defense sector.

Emphasis on Defense Industrial Cooperation

During the discussions, particular emphasis was placed on fostering defense industrial cooperation. This includes encouraging interactions between Indian start-ups and Italian defense companies to leverage the strengths of both nations.

Elevated Strategic Partnership

  • India and Italy recently elevated their bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership in March 2023 during the visit of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to India.
  • This signifies a deeper and more comprehensive engagement between the two countries.

Upcoming Defense Dialogue in France

  • In the next leg of his official visits, Defense Minister Rajnath Singh is set to hold the 5th Annual Defense Dialogue with his French counterpart, Sebastien Lecornu, in Paris this week. India’s military acquisitions from France, including maritime fighter jets, are in the spotlight.
  • The upcoming dialogue is expected to result in a roadmap for future defense cooperation.

Significant Defense Acquisitions from France

  • India is currently considering the purchase of 26 Rafale M fighters from France for its navy’s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant.
  • The Rafale M was selected over the American F/A-18 Super Hornet in a direct competition.
  • Additionally, India plans to build three more Scorpene-class submarines with French technology to enhance its undersea capabilities.
  • These two defense deals are estimated to be valued at approximately €9 billion to €10 billion, with the final price to be determined through negotiations between New Delhi and Paris.

Celebrating 25 Years of Strategic Partnership

India and France recently celebrated 25 years of their strategic partnership, signifying the enduring and growing nature of their collaboration in various domains, including defense.

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