Stealth frigates, missiles among big-ticket defence deals with Russia
BRICS summit: The defence deals come in the backdrop of the first-ever
joint military exercises between Russia and Pakistan on Pakistani soil
after the Uri terror attacks.
Written by Sushant Singh | New Delhi | Updated: October 14, 2016 3:47 pm
India and Russia are expected to ink defence deals worth billions of
dollars during the meeting in Goa on Saturday between Prime Minister
Narendra Modi and President Vladimir Putin, on the sidelines of the
BRICS summit. They include the procurement from Russia of four stealth
frigates and five units of the S-400 anti-aircraft system, and the
announcement of a joint venture for the manufacture of 200 Kamov-226T
helicopters in India.
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“India and Russia have come back to a point where we are making a
significant investment in the relationship with Moscow. The S-400
procurement is an example of our commitment to the relationship. We
might have a better relationship with the US but it doesn’t change the
content of our relationship with Moscow,” top government sources told
The Indian Express.
Sources confirmed that the deal would be worth billions of dollars but
did not provide an overall estimate — the missile systems alone may
cost $4.5 bn.
The defence deals come in the backdrop of the first-ever joint
military exercises between Russia and Pakistan on Pakistani soil after
the Uri terror attacks. India had expected the exercise to be
rescheduled but New Delhi understands that the Russian relationship
with India remains “strong and unaffected” by Moscow’s engagement with
Islamabad, said sources.
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The deal for four Admiral Grigorovich-class (Project 11356)
guided-missile stealth frigates will involve the direct supply of two
vessels from Russia while another two will be made in India. The
shipyard for making these frigates in India will be chosen by a
competitive process, sources said.
The 3,620-tonne Admiral Grigorovich-class, which can be fitted with
BrahMos missiles, is a derivative of the six Talwar-class frigates
that Russia built for the Indian Navy between 2003 and 2013.
India will also sign an inter-government agreement for the supply of
S-400 LRSAM anti-aircraft systems, which is one of the most advanced
air defence options available and capable of destroying missiles,
drones and incoming fighter jets within a range of 400 km.
The approval for procuring the S-400 missile systems was given by the
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar-led Defence Acquisitions Council
(DAC) last December. India will be the second international buyer of
the missile system after China.
Sources said that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will be the
Indian partner for the JV to manufacture the light multipurpose
Kamov-226T helicopters. An Indian private defence manufacturer may be
involved at a later stage, said sources.
Kamov helicopters had undergone testing in India as part of the
Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter (RSH) acquisition
programme, which was cancelled by the defence ministry in 2014. An
agreement for these helicopters was signed by the two countries during
Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Moscow last December.
“The Kamov helicopter is a new model and the first real ‘Make in
India’ project in a way. The same is the case with the stealth
frigates,” said sources.
However, no progress is expected on the Fifth Generation Fighter
Aircraft (FGFA) being jointly developed by the two countries, which
remains a “sore point” for Moscow, sources said. The R&D contract for
the FGFA is not expected to be signed during the meet, as India is yet
to make up its mind on various issues related to the fighter aircraft.
According to sources, the two sides have also “progressed through
constant engagement in exploring new ways” to the problem of spare
parts for military equipment of Russian origin. Nearly two-thirds of
equipment with the armed forces is of Russian and Soviet origin. For
instance, the serviceability of the Russian-origin Sukhoi fighter
aircraft, the main workhorse of the Indian Air Force, has been a
glaring issue with barely 50 per cent of the fleet being airworthy at
any given time.
“Besides showing our commitment by buying new equipment, we have to
also keep the older ones running. HAL has worked out a detailed list
of spares for Sukhois. The Russians have understood our requirement
and will designate an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) or agency
empowered to handle the supply of spares. This will be a long-term
arrangement,” said sources.
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