India, Russia ink defence deals worth $3 billion

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 25 2012, 09:12am hrs
In a major boost for the defence sector, India on Monday inked deals worth around $3 billion with Russia to procure 42 new Su-30 MKI combat aircraft and 71 Mi-17V5 medium-lift helicopters.

The contracts for acquiring these weapon systems were signed during the 13th India-Russia Annual Summit after talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin in New Delhi. With this contract, the number of Su-30MKIs in the IAF would go up to 272 in next four to five years with 170 of them already at present in the force.

Under one contract worth around $2.2 billion for licence production of 42 Su-30MKIs, Russia will deliver technical kits to the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to assemble them here. These multi-role frontline aircraft could also be equipped with Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

Under the contract for 71 Mi-17V5 choppers, 59 of the machines would be given to the IAF while the remaining 12 would be used by paramilitary forces in their anti-Naxal operations.

New Delhi's increasing preference for Western suppliers has been worrying Moscow for a long time, especially after Boeing's Apache helicopter was picked last month over Russia's MiL plant for a major contract. India is also unhappy with the delays in deliveries of some naval equipment, especially the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, which is being refurbished for the Indian Navy at Russia's Sevmash naval yard. This was originally expected to be delivered in August 2008 and has now been pushed to the end of 2013. The carriers price has more than doubled to $2.3 billion.

"Russia is a key partner in our efforts to modernise our armed forces. A number of joint design, development and production projects are underway in high technology areas, the Prime Minister said.