Updated February 21st, 2024 at 02:11 IST

Why Does India Choose France Over Germany For Weapons? S Jaishankar Answers

Germany has a history to show its reluctance in providing India with its weapons.

Reported by: Digital Desk
Jaishankar, when asked if India would procure German submarines, said, "The talks are ongoing. I think these things take time." | Image:AP/PTI/thyssenkrupp
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New Delhi: Indian External Affairs Minister Jaishankar shed light on India's evolving defence procurement strategy, particularly its reliance on France and to a lesser extent other countries in the European Union over Germany, in a recent interview with the German Economic Daily.

Jaishankar, in the interview, addressed the shift, attributing it to differing attitudes towards security and defence between the two European nations (France and Germany). Jaishankar, had also added that,“In terms of inventory, yes (Russia is most important to India), because many Western countries have long preferred to supply Pakistan and not India. But that has changed in the past ten or fifteen years with the USA, for example, and our new purchases have diversified with the USA, Russia, France, and Israel as the main suppliers.”

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Why France and Not Germany?

According to the External Affairs Minister, Germany's historical caution in matters of security and defence contrasts with the longstanding ‘robust cooperation’ India has enjoyed with France. While acknowledging recent developments in Germany's stance, Jaishankar said, “Germany has long been cautious when it comes to security and defence. In contrast, we have had robust cooperation with France for a long time and to a more limited extent with Spain and Italy. But I have seen a development in Germany's attitude in recent years; my interlocutors now understand that you can't completely exclude one part of a relationship. It is developing - and that is good for both sides.”

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The interview also included India's pursuit of advanced weaponry, among them six submarines that are on its priority list, leading to questions about progress with Thyssen-Krupp, a major German arms supplier. Jaishankar answered, “The talks are ongoing. I think these things take time.”

Thyssen-Krupp, the German group, has also inked an MoU to manufacture and produce the submarines for the Indian Navy. However, there are entities from Spain, France, and Russia also in the race, and as of now, there is a lack of movement in the proposal via which the Indian Navy will acquire the 6 conventional submarines. However, back in July, after Modi’s France visit, the Navy showed its intention to procure more Scorpene-class submarines and went forward with it, but the successor to India’s Project ‘75’ still eludes.

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Germany’s Firearm Traps and Betrayal in J&K

However, Germany has a history to show its reluctance in providing India with its weapons, and the fact has already been substantiated by the actions of the German arms manufacturer Heckler & Koch (H&K). H&K in the previous decade had refused to supply weapons to India, citing German export laws and concerns over the ‘situation’ in Jammu and Kashmir.

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Following Germany’s betrayal, there were issues of dependency on foreign arms imports and geopolitical complexities that subsequently surfaced for India.

India's vulnerability to such refusals, particularly amidst escalating tensions with neighbouring adversaries, explains the risks associated with relying heavily on foreign arms suppliers. The recent FN Herstal incident, where a critical weapons shortage hindered India's response to Chinese aggression in Ladakh, adds to these concerns. Not only weapons or platforms, but to keep those running, you need spares. In the language of the intelligentsia, you need Line Replacement Units or LRUs to keep things running smoothly. However, in conflict situations, as seen in Ukraine, as well as the recent denial by the Dutch Court to provide essential LRUs to Israel, it can be surmised that if such situations were to arise for India with the current ‘diverse arsenal,’ problems for the country will pop-up like kernels in corn to make popcorn.

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Published February 20th, 2024 at 18:59 IST