Defense Friendship

Russia and India move to joint weapon development

Russia and India continue their defense cooperation despite the certain problems. New Delhi turned into the major importer of the Russian armaments, but future plans call for joint development of new weapon systems. In mid-October the defense ministers of the Russia and India, Anatoly Serdyukov and A.K. Anthony met in Moscow to discuss defense-industrial collaboration. The parties planned to agree a final price for the aircraft carrier Vikramaditya, being converted by Russia from the Admiral Gorshkov, and signed a new program of defense cooperation for 2010-2020.
Despite the certain expectation, the signing of both agreements has been delayed. According to the Russia’s Committee for Military Technical Cooperation, the parties agreed to find an acceptable solution on Vikramaditya’s issue "in the nearest future". In 2004 India agreed to take the 44,500-tons aircraft carrier for free. It should have paid only $800 million to equip the ship with an extended deck and a ski-jump enabling it to operate MiG-29K STOBAR aircraft. Later the Russian side insisted on increasing the price to $2 billion saying the cost of modernization was underestimated at the time the contract was signed. Now the carrier is expected to be ready only in 2012.
The Vikramaditya’s deal also included the $700 million purchase of 16 MiG-29K ship-based fighters. The first aircraft were assembled in 2008 and the Indian pilots have already trained on them in Russia. At the end of September MiG-29K made their first sea trials on Russia’s only aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetzov. According to MiG Corp., two aircraft – MiG-29K single seater and two-seat MiG-29KUB made several take-offs and landings from the carrier’s deck in the Barents Sea.
MiG-29Ks have an upgraded airframe with high degree of composites, digital fly-by-wire system, in-flight refueling capabilities and new avionics including fully glass cockpit and Zhuk-ME slot array radar. The aircraft also has reduced signature and increased combat load that includes air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. Representatives by MiG confirmed to Russia & CIS Observer that the first fighters will be delivered to India by the end of the year.
The program for bilateral defense collaboration from 2011-2020 should be finally agreed by the end of the year. The Russian defense industry source told that compared to previous program through 2010 it will become less detailed and will be a more of a framework. Nevertheless the parties noticed joint development of fifth generation fighter, 10-12 ton helicopters and new infantry fighting vehicle among future programs. The defense ministers also discussed the licensed assembly Su-30MKI fighters and T-90 tanks in India as well as joint development of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.
This anti-ship missile developed by BrahMos joint venture, set up by India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPO Mash, is already taken into service by the Indian Navy. As the JV co-director Alexander Baskakov explained to Russia & CIS Observer, the missile is now being installed at several ships being constructed or modernized for the Indian Navy. The company is also working on an air launched modification that should be carried by Su-30MKI fighters. Baskakov said that the contract for the development of the air launched version has been prepared by Russia’s Rosoboronexport arms trading agency, but is not signed yet.
 "The next decade is likely to be the time of joint programs with India", said Konstantin Makienko, deputy head of the Center for analysis of strategies and technologies (CAST), Moscow-based defense think-tank. "This is good for Russia because it gives a new market to its defense products while India is the best possible partner for joint projects", he said.
According to CAST estimations, since 2007 India became the leading importer of Russian weapons replacing China. Its share in total deliveries and orders for Russian weapons is about 30%. "The Indian defense market rapidly grows, but other exporters – USA, Europe and Israel take advantage of this growth", mentioned Makienko.   

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