January 14, 2015

Russia seeks stronger defence ties with India

Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s visit to India as the chief guest at the Republic Day function, Russian defence minister Sergey Shoigu will arrive in New Delhi on January 21 to meet his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar.
During his two-day visit, the Russian defence minister will be meeting Parrikar under a mechanism that was recently created for top-level Russia-India meetings. The two ministers will conduct the 15th meeting of the Russian-Indian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation where they will discuss the fifth generation fighter aircraft, multi-transport aircraft, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.
The two leaders will also talk about the offers, made during Russian President Vladmir Putin’s visit to India last month, on producing the ‘Kamov’ military helicopters in India under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. Also, India is possibly looking for additional Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft.
While the two ministers will also review the preliminary design for the export version of the fifth generation fighter jet – the PAK-FA, the two are not expected to move forward on having a $11-billion research and development contract for the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).
The two countries have set up a joint venture, headquartered in Bangalore to design and develop the medium-payload multi-role transport aircraft. Its founders are Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), UAC and Rosoboronexport.
Ahead of the Russian defence minister’s this meeting, there was a visit by a Russian team to India when they conveyed to the Indian Air Force (IAF) that the basic prototype of the plane was already flying and the Indian version had just a few variations, hence a full-fledged R&D contract was a waste of time and resources.
In September 2013, the two countries were able to resolve the problematic issues on the draft design of the fifth generation fighter, having also agreed to build 200 aircraft worth about $30 billion. President of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) Mikhail Pogosyan said in November that FGFA project is among top priority projects for Russia. “The projects of a fifth generation fighter jet and a military transport plane reflect our strategy on creating present-day high-tech products in cooperation with our partners.”
The two countries are the largest partners in the field of military-technical cooperation (MTC) – with over 70% of weapons and military equipment used by the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy made in Russia or the former Soviet Union. The Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) estimates the volume of weapons and military equipment supplied to India in 2013 at $4.78 billion.


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