In a spirit of a cooperation and understanding, India and Russia held their annual meeting to review the defence ties in Moscow on Tuesday (04 Oct 2011) and expressed “readiness to take all necessary measures to further expand the cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis.”
In a Protocol signed after the Eleventh meeting of the India-Russia Inter-governmental Commission on Military Technical, co-chaired by the Defence Minister Shri AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Mr AE Serdyukov, the two sides noted with satisfaction that that during the period under review various diligent steps have been taken “to deepen interaction in the development of defence technologies, modernization of military equipment and joint manufacture of military-purpose products.”
“Such cooperation involves the strengthening of interactions between the Armed Forces, defense industry enterprises and research agencies of the two countries,” the Protocol noted.
Visibly happy at the outcome, Shri Antony told a group of Indian journalists shortly after the talks: “Distinct improvements have taken place in the pace of progress of many critical projects in the last one year. We value our friendship a great deal. Together we would like to consolidate our relationship and take it forward”.
At the talks, the Indian delegation included the Defence Secretary Shri Shashikant Sharma, Secretary Defence Production Shri Shekhar Aggarwal, Indian Ambassador Shri Ajai Malhotra, Lt Gen MS Buttar, Air Marshal RK Sharma, Vice Admiral NN Kumar, Chief Controller of Research & Development of DRDO Dr. Avinash Chander, CMD Hindustan Aeronautics Limited Shri Ashok Nayak and DG Acquisition Shri Vivek Rae.
Speaking at the meeting, Shri Antony said India-Russia defence relationship has grown both in content and scope over the years. He said India highly values the time tested, strong and multi- faceted relationship with Russia.
‘There is a strong impulse, both at the level of the Government and among the people of India to further strengthen our special strategic partnership which is based on mutual trust and complimentarity of interests. The world in general and our region in particular, are witnessing significant developments which have an impact on regional and global security. In the evolving scenario, the special strategic partnership between our two countries assumes even greater significance. Both our countries must continue to strengthen our joint efforts to address these challenges’.
Listing some of the projects where both sides have put in years of effort to bring success, hri Antony said, ‘The project for joint development and production of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, BrahMos missile system, licensed production in India of T-90 tanks and SU-30 MKI aircraft are proud examples of our strong relationship. We are sure that the success of these projects would be models for the implementation of several other projects of mutual interest’, he said.
Referring to planned delivery of Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya, Shri Antony said, ‘We are keenly awaiting the induction of the Aircraft Carrier into the Indian Navy. This project has attracted considerable public attention in India. We hope that the induction will take place, on schedule, by end 2012. We also hope that all activities on the MiG-29K are completed to achieve synchronization with the aircraft carrier’.
Nevertheless, Shri Antony drew the attention of the Russian side to the vexing issue of delayed export clearances for vital repair equipment for already contracted weapons systems. This has been affecting supplies of defence equipment and spares.
The Russian side assured the Indian side that the matter was receiving attention at highest levels in the Russian Government and efforts would made to institutionalize measures to avoid such delays in future.
Shri Antony expressed India’s concern at the tardy progress made in the design and development of the Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MTA). The two sides agreed to accelerate the progress of this Project and they would be meeting later this month.
With regard to the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), being jointly designed and developed by India and Russia, both sides noted that the first stage of the preliminary design contract has been successfully completed and the second stage of the PD Contract is to be finalised before September, 2012. The training programme for the Indian engineers covering nearly 20 courses was completed in July, 2011. Both sides agreed to continue discussions for finalization of the R&D contract as per the agreed time lines of the general contract signed in December, 2008.
In his address, the Russian Defence Minister Mr Serdyukov described India-Russia defence tie as a ‘stable and promising relationship’. During the discussion, the Russian side spoke about their views on offsets. The Indian side informed that the Indian offset guidelines are presently under revision.
Regional security situation was also discussed by the two sides.