Union Defence minister Rajnath Singh on Wednesday called on French companies to make India their base for the production of defence equipment. At the conclusion of his three-day visit to France, the minister addressed CEOs of leading French defence industries. “We have undertaken significant economic reforms to improve the ease of doing business and opening up the economy for investments. Our government under the leadership of our Prime Minister Modi has opened up defence sector manufacturing to a large extent under the ‘Make in India’s initiative’,” he said.
“We have recently reduced our corporate tax significantly. For Make in India’ in defence if there is need for further tax rationalisation, it may be considered suitably,” he said.
The minister applauded the French companies for regularly participating in DefExpos organised in India with great energy and enthusiasm. He extended a special invitation to French firms to participate in DefExpo 2020, which will be held in Lucknow from February 05 to 08 next year.
“Lucknow happens to be a city of rich culture and heritage and the French people are known to be highly appreciative of great cultures. Lucknow is the capital of Uttar Pradesh, which is also a land of new opportunities, he said.
Earlier, Singh attended the handover ceremony along with his French counterpart Florence Parly at aircraft maker Dassault Aviation facility in Merignac, southwestern France.
“Our Air Force is the fourth-largest in the world and I believe that the Rafale Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft will make us even stronger and will give a boost to India’s air dominance exponentially to ensure peace and security in the region,” Singh said, addressing the gathering in Hindi.
“I have been told that the French word Rafale means ‘andhi’ in Hindi or gust of wind. I am sure that the aircraft will live up to its name,” he said.
This range of Rafale fighter jets have been specially designed to meet the needs of the IAF, which its manufacturer described as a new step in the company’s long-standing relationship with India.
India had ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. While the formal handover ceremony takes place this week, the first batch of four Rafale jets will fly to their home base in India by May 2020. All 36 jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022, for which the IAF has been reportedly undertaking preparations, including readying required infrastructure and training of pilots.
The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The manufacturers describe it as a fully versatile aircraft which can carry out all combat aviation missions to achieve air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.