The Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony has embarked on a three day visit to Russia where various ongoing and future Indo-Russian defence projects will be discussed. Defence minister A.K.Antony will also co-chair the 11th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) with his Russian counterpart Anatoly E Serdyukov.
During the Russian visit, Indian Defence Minister and his high-level delegation will review progress on various crucial projects including the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), retrofitting of Admiral Gorshkov, delivery of frigates, Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MRTA) and the lease of K-152 Nerpa nuclear submarine. The two sides will also iron out the details relating to the licensed manufacture and maintenance of T-90 tanks and Su-30MKI aircraft in India. Prior to the IRGC-MTC meeting in Russia, various sub-groups and working groups covering all areas of Indo-Russian military technical cooperation have met and discussed a wide range of issues related to equipment and technology transfer and product support.
As experts pointed out that Indian and Russia remain good partners as far as military and technical cooperation is involved and the value of the Russian-Indian military-technical ties per annum amounts to roughly $ 3.5 billion dollars. Although Russia has lost out on the MMRCA contract, it is still pursuing some of the biggest defence projects with India including the FGFA and MRTA project besides other research and development work. Russian defence firms like Rosoboronexport are contesting in more than ten tenders in India. Besides, Russia annually sells $ 3.5 billion dollar’s worth of arms and military hardware to India. Recently, Russia has also signed a deal worth $ 1.5-biilion-dollar deal for supplying 29 Russian deck-based aircraft MiG-29 before the end of next year to Indian Navy.
However, India has been wary of Russia’s unforthcoming ways due to various instances and setbacks in the past. India has blamed Russia for not adhering to delivery schedules, effecting unreasonable cost escalations, the absence of technology transfer and failure to provide uninterrupted and good quality of supply of spares. The price hike in the retrofitting of Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) and other inconsistencies in the price and policy have caused great dissatisfaction to India. This has even led to India to diversify its arms purchases and not necessarily rely on Russia.
During the current Russian visit, Indian Defence Minister will be accompanied by Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma, Secretary Defence Production Shekhar Aggarwal, armed forces officers Lt Gen M.S. Buttar (Chief of Staff, Western Command), Air Marshal R.K. Sharma (IAF deputy chief), Vice Admiral N.N. Kumar (Controller Warship Production & Acquisition), Chief Controller of Research & Development of DRDO Dr Avinash Chander, HAL chief Ashok Nayak and DG Acquisition Vivek Ray. During the Defence Minister A.K.Antony's October 4-5 visit, he is also expected to call on Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as well.