Even as it prodded the USA last week for joint production to enable Transfer of Technology and attain self-sufficiency in the long run, the ball has been set rolling by deciding to jointly produce advanced military aircraft with strategic partners - Russia and Japan. A key outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's trip to Tokyo between September 1 and 3 will be to allow India produce parts of amphibious aircraft US-2, official sources said. This will be the first such defence collaboration between Tokyo and Delhi following Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's decision to exhibit his power.
Abe is likely to convey Tokyo's decision to approve production of some parts for US-2 when he meets Modi next month, an official informed.
Last April, Tokyo eased its rules for the sale of defense equipment and transfer of defense technology in the first major overhaul of a decadeslong arms embargo. The US-2 can take off and land in a short distance, even on rough seas, and engage in search and rescue operations. Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force currently has five US-2s.India and Japan have been discussing the aircraft sale for some time now.
But a major point of discord has been whether to allow India to manufacture parts for the aircraft, given Japan's worries about technological leakage or transfers to third parties.
However, Delhi has been insisting on allowing Indian companies to produce parts for the US-2, in the hope of developing its own defence aviation industry, sources pointed out. Delhi is also keen to jointly develop the US-2 as it will reduce its price, sources hinted.
After the agreement, Delhi and Tokyo will decide what parts India will be allowed to produce and when production would start, sources said, adding this will mark an important landmark in Indo-Japan defence ties that have so far been restricted to joint and multi-lateral exercises, training and exchange of visits of armed forces personnel.
Following the successful joint production and induction of the Brahmos missile, India is eyeing the fifth-generation fighter jets being jointly developed with Russia.
Sources hoped that the first batch of T-50 fifth-generation fighter aircraft would be ready by 2016. Russia's Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer plans to sign another contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for producing T-50s.
"Earlier it used to be licence production of Russian aircraft in India, but now it will be joint designing and production of a new combat aircraft," an official source stressed marking a new era in Indo-Russian military partnership.