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India eyes fifth generation fighter jet

Last updated on: November 17, 2005 23:51 IST

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee has invited Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG to present its concept of fifth generation fighter aircraft before the top brass of Indian Air Force even as New Delhi has expressed its desire to join the Russian project.

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"MiG had presented its concept of fifth generation fighter aircraft when I visited them on Wednesday. I invited them to make a presentation in India for the IAF officers," Mukherjee told reporters before leaving for home on Thursday night at the end of his three-day Moscow visit.

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In the course of his press conference at the Russian Defence Ministry on Wednesday, Mukherjee had for the first time publicly acknowledged that India was keen to take part in the development and financing of the fifth generation fighter aircraft with Russia, which would rival the Joint Strike Fighter being developed by the United States.

Russia had first made this offer to the National Democratic Alliance government three years ago after successful completion of Sukhoi Su-30MKI project, which already incorporates some features of the futuristic super fighter plane.

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Local defence experts have noted that China, a major buyer of Russian military hardware has not been offered stake in the project. France is the only other foreign nation, which has also been invited besides India.

Russian Air Force had identified Sukhoi Corporation as the designer of the fifth generation fighter aircraft, which
has already made presentation in India.

However, India seems to be in favour of a lighter aircraft, in which RAC MiG specialises.      

On the last day of his Moscow visit the Defence Minister addressed the cadets and staff of the Russian General Staff Academy and visited NPOM, the Russian partner of Indo-Russian 'BrahMos' joint venture for the manufacture of supersonic cruise missiles.

Mukherjee said that several 'friendly' countries have evinced interest in the missile, which would be jointly marketed by India and Russia.

He, however, said that first it was the need to induct the missile by the armed forces of India and Russia before global marketing.

"Russia would require to amend some of its laws for inducting BrahMos, and we are pursuing this issue with them," Mukherjee said.

Describing his three-day stay in Moscow and talks with the Russian leadership, including President Vladimir Putin and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, as quite successful, Mukherjee said that long pending Intellectual Property Right agreement has been finalised and it would be signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Moscow visit early December.

IPR agreement would help in resolving the problem of spares, he said.      

India and Russia will also sign agreement on the joint development and production of 145 medium multi-role transport aircraft of which IAF will get 45 aircraft for replacing ageing AN-32 fleet.

Vinay Shukla
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