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Rediff.com  » News » India-Russia defence ties set to get stronger

India-Russia defence ties set to get stronger

October 16, 2007 10:17 IST

Defence Minister A K Antony will arrive in Moscow on Tuesday, leading a high-powered military delegation, for the seventh meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation, on October 17-18.

Antony will co-chair the commission meeting with Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov to hold talks on a wide-ranging agenda of military technical cooperation, covering key spheres, including timely delivery of contracted military systems, in the light of the reported settlement of the cost-escalation issue, supply of defence systems and spares, equipment modernization, licensed and joint production, and joint development and production.

A new defence protocol beyond 2010 is expected to be signed during the commission meeting.

An inter-governmental deal on the joint development of an advanced fifth generation fighter will be signed on October 17, leading business daily Kommersant reported quoting sources in the Russian aviation industry.

The two sides had announced their decision last January at the sixth meeting of the IRIGC-MTC, in New Delhi, to sign the $10 billion pact before the end of this year.

'It is planned that Russia and India will participate in the project on a fifty-fifty basis,' Director-General of Sukhoi Aviation Holding Company, Mikhail Pogosyan told the paper.

'Moreover, the project will not only imply equal financing but equal engineer contribution into the creation of the aircraft as well,' Pogosyan added.

He said the Russian project PAK-FA (also known as T-50 and I-21) will serve as the basis for the joint project.

According to Air Force Commander Alexander Zelin, PAK-FA of the first stage will start operating by the end of 2009 and from 2010 its serial purchases will begin.

'It is expected that by 2015, the purchases of the aircraft of the second stage would start. This aircraft would completely meet the military demands of the fifth generation aircraft,' he said.

The meeting will also examine the programme on the joint development and production of a medium military transport aircraft (MTA), which has so far not achieved the phase of active realization due to problems with financing.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov said last week after co-chairing the meeting of Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission, on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation with the visiting External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee that the two sides were currently discussing the creation of a joint venture to develop the MTA with the use of rupee debt and the agreement on it might be signed in the near future.

Other issues that might come up at the commission meeting include 347 T-90 main battle tanks (MBT), additional 40 Su-30MKI fighters and 80 Mi-17 helicopters.

Antony and Serdyukov will sign the minutes of the seventh meeting of the IRIGC-MTC, which was set up in 2000 to give a new dimension to bilateral defence ties beyond buyer-seller relationship.

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