November 15, 2014

India, Russia may clinch deals on producing mid-range civilian aircraft, military helicopters

Eyeing joint-production of military and civilian items with a foreign partner, India and Russia could clinch deals on co-production of mid-range civilian aircraft as well as military helicopters during President Vladimir Putin's trip to Delhi on December 11-12.

During Putin's maiden visit to Delhi for the annual summit after Modi became the Prime Minister the two sides might agree on joint production of the MC-21 mid-range civilian aircraft, South Block officials said. This aircraft can carry 180 passengers and have a range of 5,000 km.

The first flight of this aircraft - currently being manufactured in Russia -- is scheduled for 2016, and the mass production will begin in 2017. Thereafter the aircraft could also be jointly produced in India, sources indicated. "The Russian project fits into Modi's agenda of Make in India which will not only create domestic jobs but also result in transfer of technology and self-sufficiency in the long run," an official remarked.

Similarly, the two countries are currently discussing the possibility of building production plants in India for the Sukhoi Superjet-100 - another civilian aircraft. Officials said that this will not only meet the needs of the Indian market but also enable joint-entry into the markets of other countries. Indonesia has already expressed interest to purchase Sukhoi Superjet -100. Sukhoi is no stranger to India as Indian Air Force has been using advanced Sukhoi fighter jets.Putin's visit could also witness an agreement on joint production of KA-226 helicopters in India that can be utilised for both military and civilian purposes. The helicopter has performed well at high-altitude and would come handy for India's mountainous terrain, sources claimed. Indian Air Force and Army have been using Russian manufactured helicopters for disaster relief and rescue missions besides combat operations.

The Modi government has also expressed interest in collaboration in aircraft engine manufacturing projects and this was discussed at last week's Sushma Swaraj-Dmitry Rogozin meeting in Delhi, sources informed.

Joint initiatives in the field of space will be a key item on the agenda of Modi-Putin summit on . Ahead of the Summit both sides will hold different consultations on cooperation in space exploration. These will involve manned space missions and deployment of projects in India connected to the use of the Russian navigation system GLONASS, according to officials.

The two sides are also looking at the possibility of joint-production in India of GLONASS signal receiving modules and introduction of the ERA-GLONASS satellite monitoring system for transport vehicles, which are used for automatic notification of emergency services in case of accidents and other emergencies. Officials recalled that two countries have had old cooperation in the field of space including supply of cryogenic engines by Moscow when Delhi faced Western sanctions. Space instrument engineering could be a new area of partnership for future, officials hinted.

Meanwhile, officials said that the two sides are still working on the possibility of visit by Putin to Kudankulam Atomic Power Project site following Modi's invitation to the Russian leader when they met at Brazil. "Unlike Chinese President Xi Jinping Putin travels on short-business like visits and two city schedule in a host nation is often not on his cards. But the possibility of visit to Tamil Nadu to project site is being explored," an pointed out an official speaking on the condition of anonymity.


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