India and France have resolved to soon operationalize their bilateral military logistics pact inked in March to provide refueling, repair and berthing facilities to each other’s warships and aircraft, even as the two countries discuss the possibility of holding a joint tri-Service exercise sometime in 2019-2020.
This will be India’s third such joint exercise. The first joint tri-service exercise was held with Russia in October last year and has finalised one with the U.S. to be held next year.
France will become only the third country with which India will deploy assets and manpower from its Army, Navy and IAF together when the tri-Service exercise is actually held sometime in 2019-2020. India and the US have decided to hold their first-ever tri-Service amphibious exercise off the eastern coast of India next year
The logistics pact with France, the second such reciprocal agreement after the first one with the US, will allow Indian warships access to French bases at the Reunion Islands near Madagascar and Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. France, incidentally, also has a naval air station in Abu Dhabi (UAE).
India and France currently hold bilateral exercises between individual services — Shakti, Varuna and Garuda respectively for the Army, Navy and Air Force & both countries has agreed to “expand the scope and complexity” of the regular joint exercises, while also bolstering their ongoing maritime security cooperation in the IOR.
Taking it forward
Ms. Sitharaman and her French counterpart Florence Parly discussed “how to operationalise it and make it happen.” “While the agreement has been signed, we now have to identify specific aspects to implement it,” the source added.
These three bases would give the Indian Navy and the Air Force operational turnaround to the far end of the Indian Ocean, improving its monitoring and surveillance of the region, in the backdrop of increased Chinese presence in the India