Shedding light on the “ongoing discussions” between India and Safran regarding the Shakti jet engine deal, Ambassador of India to France Jawed Ashraf said that the focus of the deliberations is on achieving a set of specifications that align with India’s future fighter jet requirements. “This is a subject of ongoing discussions,” Ambassador Ashraf said, highlighting the intricate nature of the negotiations.

“Now, the issue is really about arriving at a set of specifications that comply with our future fighter jet requirements,” he said, explaining that the current discourse involves more than just the transfer of manufacturing technology. According to the Indian envoy to France, the deal aims to delve into the actual design phase, metallurgical aspects, and other critical elements that contribute to the development of advanced jet engines.

“So this (deal) always features in the conversation between the President and the Prime Minister,” Ashraf said, addressing a special briefing on Friday by the Ministry of External Affairs on the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to India. The Ambassador emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach, stating, “What we are looking for is not just a manufacturing transfer of technology, which essentially keeps you going with the same crutches that you have been going on for the last six decades but to work in the actual design phase, metallurgical aspects, et cetera.” Safran, a key player in the aerospace industry, has expressed its willingness to engage in a 100 per cent transfer of technology across various phases of the project. This includes design development, certification, production, and more.

However, Ambassador Ashraf acknowledged that navigating such complexities requires aligning the discussions with India’s overall future defence requirements. “So Safran is fully willing to do it with 100% transfer of technology, 100% transfer of technology in design development, certification, production and so on and so forth.” “It’s obviously a very complex subject, and it has to fit in with the overall future requirements. So these discussions will continue to take place, and that’s also part of the defense industry roadmap,” he added.

In July 2023, in a significant decision, India and France decided to extend their ground-breaking defence cooperation in advanced aeronautical technologies by supporting the joint development of a combat aircraft engine. They also decided to support industrial cooperation for motorisation of heavy-lift helicopters under the Indian Multi Role Helicopter [IMRH] programme with Safran Helicopter Engine. The announcement was made after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talks with Macron in Paris.

Earlier in April 2023, group chairman of Safran, Ross McInnes, called on PM Modi to discuss a technological partnership with Safran in defence and space. The French firm is a manufacturer of aircraft and rocket engines, among others. In February 2023, Safran Helicopter Engines and Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) signed a workshare agreement for the joint development of the engine intended for the future 13-tonne Indian MultiRole Helicopter (IMRH) and its naval version Deck-Based MultiRole Helicopter (DBMRH), according to a joint statement from both companies. Safran is a French multinational company that designs, develops and manufactures aircraft engines, rocket engines as well as various aerospace and defence-related equipment or their components.