During the visit of President Emmanuel Macron, France has conveyed that there are "no limits" to tech-sharing with India

New Delhi: India and France have signed an ambitious and unprecedented Defence Space Agreement that could see the two countries launch military satellites with both offensive and defensive capabilities, people familiar with the matter said.

The deal, not publicised or spoken of, was quietly signed by French Defence Minister Sebastien Locornu and India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval on January 26, even as French President Emmanuel Macron was attending the “At Home” Republic Day reception at Rashtrapati Bhawan along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The Letter of Intent (LoI) on the Defence Space Partnership signed between the two countries opens the door for the two allies to partner in the area of space defence and to together build defence capacities and operational capabilities for better global situational awareness, protection of communication and surveillance satellites, and making the battle-field more transparent in air, land and sea.

While the Modi government is tight-lipped about the defence space partnership with France, India’s oldest civilian space partner, the LoI paves the way for the space agencies of the two countries to jointly develop and launch military satellites to protect national security interests. The military satellites will not only protect the space assets of India in the worst-case scenario but also track the moves of adversaries.

President Macron conveyed to his Indian interlocutors that there are “no limits” to French support to India in defence including designing, developing, manufacturing and certification of new platforms that will be specifically built to suit the requirements of the two countries.

“ India and France have decided to invest in a long-term relationship with the two countries on the same page politically on Houthis, and the Gaza war, with nuanced difference over the Ukraine war given that France is part of the EU,” said a top interlocutor, speaking on condition of anonymity.

During the French President’s two-day visit to India, PM Modi laid out the red carpet for Macron with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar accompanying him everywhere, from arrival to departure. It is learnt that after the Jaipur roadshow, President Macron was amazed to find growing pro-incumbency for PM Modi even after a decade at the helm.

With the global situation volatile — in an arc from Morocco to Iran due to the Gaza war and in South East Asia due to the hegemony of China — India and France have decided to support each other, based on independent foreign policy and strategic autonomy. France has also activated a five-year Schengen visa scheme for Indian youth to get access to the best of skills in French universities.

France is willing to support India in developing top-of-the-line defence platforms such as fighter aircraft engines, nuclear attack submarines and underwater drones, all locally made, and the defence industrial roadmap announced by the two leaders will not only make India self-reliant for the long term but also build an industrial base in the country. This will create jobs and reduce India’s dependency on foreign imports. The two countries have also decided to manufacture in India and export to third countries.

President Macron made it clear to his accompanying Foreign, Defence and Cultures Ministers that there should be no hurdles in India-France ties and that India should be allowed access to all top of the line French technologies without any prejudice or reservations.

This report is auto-generated from a news agency service