India showing interest in French artillery

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New Delhi, Feb 20 (UNI) After the Scorpene submarine deal, India is now showing keen interest in French artillery, including the 155mm guns mounted on trucks and tanks.

Some top Indian army officials have met over the past few days members of GICAT, an association of 43 French defence companies, which had participated in the four-day DefExpo 2008 that ended here yesterday.

''The DG Artillery met me and I explained to him in detail about the 155mm 52 calibre tracked gun, and the 155mm guns mounted on trucks and tanks,'' GICAT Deputy Managing Director General (retd) Jean-Albert Epitalon told UNI.

According to Gen Epitalon, something concrete could happen during the International Land, Airland, Homeland Defence Exhibition to be held in Paris from June 16-20, which the Indian defence personnel would attend.

He said France could also supply FELIN, a future infantry soldier system, according to Indian specifications.

''The French Army will receive the first batch of FELIN by this year-end and 20,000 systems by 2013-15, and the Indian Army can learn from our experience and know what benefits we have gained,'' the General said.

''If some equipment with FELIN are not useful for India, we are ready to make adjustments.'' A spokesman of SAGEM/DS, which manufactures FELIN, said India was a huge market for his company.

He said the system contained modular equipment, such as GPS, which could be removed, and the system could be adjusted to local specifications.

He further said European countries such as Switzerland and Belgium had expressed willingness to buy FELIN.

French Ambassador Jerome Bonnafont said the defence cooperation reflected the growing ties between the two countries.

UNI YJ PY AS1508

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