Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and his Russian counterpart General Sergey Shoigu today signed a roadmap for boosting bilateral military cooperation, Russia’s official media reported. “We are determined to go ahead with building up cooperation in order to enhance the combat readiness of both countries’ armed forces and to exchange experience in various defense-related matters,” Gen. Shoigu said at the 17th meeting of the Russian-Indian inter-governmental commission for military-technical cooperation. He said that the experts of the two countries have drafted a roadmap for the development of military cooperation between Russia and India, which is to become the basic document in planning bilateral contacts.
At the end of the session Shoigu and Jaitley signed a corresponding document, the official Tass news agency reported without providing details of the roadmap. Ahead of the visit, the Defence Ministry in New Delhi had said the meeting will review the entire range of military and military-technical cooperation issues between India and Russia within the framework of the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries.
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The meeting took place nearly three weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to “upgrade and intensify” defence ties through joint manufacture and co-production of key military hardware, during their annual summit talks at St Petersburg. A vision document, issued after the talks between Modi and Putin, said both the countries decided to work towards a “qualitatively higher level of military-to-military cooperation”.
Russia has been one of India’s key major suppliers of arms and ammunition. However, it has been a long-standing grievance of armed forces that supply of critical spares and equipment from Russia takes a long time affecting maintenance of military systems procured from that country. Jaitley, also the Finance Minister, is in Russia on a three-day visit. On Wednesday, Jaitley had invited Russian firms to come forward with proposals for technology transfer to Indian companies and facilitate joint manufacturing of advanced military platforms.
“I invite Russian companies to come forward with proposals for technology transfer to Indian companies and facilitate manufacturing of more advanced components/parts and sub-systems. This can start with platforms of Russian origin where the requirement is in large numbers and is recurring in nature,” he said. “Russian companies, which already have a long experience of working in India and working with India are well placed to take a leading role in this process,” he had said while addressing the plenary of TECHNOPROM 2017, a leading forum for technological development.
In a major step towards defence indigenisation, the Indian government last month unveiled a “strategic partnership” model under which select private firms will be engaged along with foreign entities to build military platforms like fighter jets, submarines and battle tanks. “In the days to come, we hope to fully harness the energies, entrepreneurial spirit and enterprise of the private sector in the area of defence manufacturing.
“Here again, Russia as India’s largest, oldest and most trusted partner in defence hardware and equipment, would have a comparative advantage in partnering with Indian companies for realising ‘Make in India’ potential in defence production,” Jaitley had said.