France hopes to forge closer military ties with India through arms co-production and joint field operations, Defense Minister Herve Morin said in comments published Oct. 18.
"We could intensify our cooperation at the theatres of operation where both our armed forces are deployed - piracy in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden being such a case," Morin said in an interview with Indian Defence Review magazine.
"We could also develop more armament programs that are efficient and adapted to the needs of both armed forces," he added.
Morin also sought to promote the French-built Rafale aircraft, which Dassault hopes to sell to India as part of a deal for 126 fighter jets worth $12 billion.
"I am sure that the field trials, completed in spring 2010, would have enabled the Indian air force and the ministry of defense to gauge fully the quality of this aircraft," he said.
Besides Dassault, five other global aeronautical firms are in the race for the jet deal.
U.S.-based Lockheed Martin's F-16, and Boeing's F-18 Super Hornet emerged as the front-runners after the grueling trials.
Dassault is however poised to pick up a $1.2-billion contract to revamp 56 Mirage-2000 aircraft that France sold India nearly two decades ago.
The deal is expected to be finalized during French President Nicholas Sarkozy's scheduled visit to India in December.