In a significant development, France has offered to completely shift the assembly line of the Panther medium utility helicopters to India, in addition to 70 per cent of Dassault Rafale fighter jet’s assembly line. France has offered to move the assembly lines of the Panther choppers and Rafale fighter jets to India under the government’s “Make in India” initiative, with full transfer of technology.
Built by Airbus under the title AS565 MBe, Panther choppers are all-weather multi-role medium helicopters which have been designed for operations from the ship decks, offshore locations and land-based sites. The Panther helicopters can fulfill a wide range of military roles, including combat assault, fire support, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, search and rescue, and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC).
The offers were made to the Indian leaders by President Macron’s Diplomatic Advisor Emmanuel Bonne who was in India earlier this week to participate in the 34th India-France strategic dialogue. During the visit, Bonne held engagements with National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and also with Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi.
India has also made it clear that the French defence technologies shared with the Indian military should not be given to its opponents, including its neighbor Pakistan. France has reportedly reassured that it will abide by the request, and also informed India regarding its lessening military ties with Pakistan, which have reached a new low after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan criticized President Macron over his views on Islam.
This offer, to make the choppers in India works extremely well with the Indian government, which has been looking to acquire medium helicopters for the Indian Navy. Moreover, considering the deal to bring 70 percent of the Rafale fighters’ assembly line including local vendor development, there could be a possibility that India, which has a contract of 36 fighters, could end up purchasing more in the future.
France has also offered help in the development of the engine for the twin-engine Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) and Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).