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Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Anil Chauhan’s visit to France marks a significant milestone in the deepening of bilateral defence cooperation between India and France. During his visit, General Chauhan was given a scheduled tour of the French submarine base at Brest, with a possible extension to Toulouse, showcasing France’s advanced naval capabilities and technology. 

The French submarine base at Brest holds strategic importance as the homeport of the ballistic missile nuclear-powered submarines (SSBNs) of the French Navy, known as the Marine Nationale. Notably, four Triomphant-class submarines stationed at L’Ile Longue comprise France’s Force Océanique Stratégique (FOST), which forms the backbone of France’s nuclear arsenal. 

The visit by General Chauhan to this key naval facility provides an opportunity for India to gain insights into France’s submarine operations and infrastructure, fostering greater cooperation and knowledge-sharing in the maritime domain.

One of the highlights of the defence dialogue between India and France is the potential exchange of submarine technology. France has offered its expertise in non-nuclear submarine technology to India, which holds significant implications for India’s indigenous defense capabilities. This technology transfer could bolster India’s nuclear-powered conventionally armed attack submarines (SSN) program, enhancing its submarine fleet’s operational capabilities and strategic deterrence posture.

A key area of interest for India is France’s pump-jet propulsion technology, which is integral to the propulsion systems of the Le Triomphant-class ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). This advanced propulsion system, coupled with pressurized water K15 nuclear reactors and electric drive, offers enhanced manoeuvrability, stealth, and operational endurance to submarines. 

India’s keen interest in integrating pump-jet propulsion into its SSN is still in the developmental stage and France is a world leader in the pump-jet propulsion technology program that has the potential for synergistic collaboration between the two nations.

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