Union minister Arun Jaitley, who was appointed the Defence minister just days ago after Manohar Parrikar stepped down to become the chief minister of Goa, met Russia’s Minister of Trade and Industry Denis Manturov at Manekshaw Centre on Friday. Manturov is on a two-day visit to India to focus on issues related to the $1-billion Indo-Russian deals including Kamov-226 helicopters, progress of Project 1135-6 frigates for the Indian Navy and T-90 tanks for the Indian Army, among others. Soon after the meeting, Arun Jaitley said, “India is one of the largest importers of defence equipment in the world, and this definitely is not a label we are happy with.” Addressing a conference on India-Russia Military and Industrial cooperation, Jaitley called for deeper bilateral engagement in defence production. He said that Russia should at least facilitate manufacturing of parts and sub systems, which are needed in large numbers and where the requirement is recurring in nature.
According to FE Bureau, “Besides meeting with the new defence minister Arun Jaitley, three sets of meetings have been planned for the visiting minister. He will meet officials of Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force. The interaction between the Russian side and the Indian armed forces, as well as the industry, is to see how all can work together as a support system.”
On the day, two agreements were signed at the conference between India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and United Engine Corporation for long-term supply of spares and technical assistance for Sukhoi 30MKI aircraft for five years.
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Saying that these moves are part of the larger defence and economic agenda chalked out by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India, FM Jaitley said, “PM, after forming government, launched the Make in India initiative; defence production is identified as one of the key areas under this.”
Earlier today, Defence Minister Jaitley while intervening in the Lok Sabha during a debate had said that the Indian armed forces were fully prepared to meet any challenge and asked the Opposition to be very careful about conveying the impression that they were not due to lack of procurement.
(With inputs from FE Bureau and PTI)