U.K. Plays Catch-Up as EU Powers Vie for Indian Market Share

U.K. Plays Catch-Up as EU Powers Vie for Indian Market Share

The week before U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s Feb. 18 visit to India, the British press was abuzz with stories of how Cameron intended to use the visit to “try and steal” the coveted $12 billion dollar medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) contract from France’s Dassault Rafale in favor of the Anglo-German Eurofighter Typhoon. This story was no doubt fed by the perception that French President Francois Hollande, who was in India days before, had been unable to sew up the MMRCA contract.

The speculation hints at how the three core European Union nations -- the U.K., France and Germany -- are engaging with New Delhi and vying for a share of the Indian market for higher-end goods and services. Although their respective technical and industrial strengths help determine their individual relationships with India, their efforts to forge deeper ties will ultimately depend on India’s political comfort levels with each, as well as on what each has to offer India’s development strategy.

Particularly in the security sphere, India is on the lookout for dependable international partners for military co-development programs. India’s goal is to diversify international sources of weapons to hedge risk, while also nurturing an indigenous defense industrial capability. France has clearly emerged as an important partner in this domain, as reflected by Hollande’s latest visit, during which a $6 billion co-development contract for short-range surface-to-air missiles was announced between France’s MBDA and India’s DRDO. The contract adds significant heft to France’s growing portfolio in India, which includes naval platforms, avionics, upgrades and radars.

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