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India, Russia likely to sign another mega defence deal

08 Sep 2016 | By Ramya

Bilateral talks between India and Russia gained momentum as another mega defence deal between them seems likely.

They are likely to sign deals worth billions during a summit level meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi scheduled for Oct'16 in Goa.

A deal for India to acquire four additional stealth frigates for $4 billion is expected to be sealed.

In context: Indo-Russian defence ties

IntroductionRussia - India's primary defence partner

Indo-Russian defence ties existed since the time of the Soviet Union.

Russia is India's primary defence equipment supplier; since 1960, Russia supplied $65-billion-worth military vehicles.

Growing Indo-US defence ties have urged Russia to plan an aggressive counter strategy.

Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin will visit India on 13 Sep'16 to attend the Inter-Governmental Committee on Trade, Economic, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation.

08 Sep 2016India, Russia likely to sign another mega defence deal

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Clarifications on price and agreement

A Defence Ministry source stated, "Two of the frigates will come from Russia, while the other two will be constructed in India. The MoD (Ministry of Defence) has asked for some clarifications before taking a decision on the price and inter-governmental agreement."
High-level two-day MTC-WG meeting

High-level meetingHigh-level two-day MTC-WG meeting

The high-level India-Russia Military Technical Cooperation Working Group (MTC-WG) two-day meeting began in New Delhi on 7 Sep'16.

Russian officials reportedly submitted a "techno-commercial purpose" for four multi-purpose 4000-tonne frigates equipped with weapons, including BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles, along with sensors.

The frigate project was initially offered to PM Narendra Modi by Russian President Vladimir Putin over a year ago.

Pending defence projects

Pending defence projects between India and Russia like the joint development of Kamov Ka-226T light utility helicopters and fifth-generation fighter aircraft, along with the Rs.39,000 crore purchase deals of S-400 Triumf advanced air defence missile systems were also discussed at the MTC-WG meeting.

Russian frigatesSix Russian frigates already inducted

India inducted the three Talwar-class frigates during 2003-04 and three Teg-class frigates during 2011-13.

The Teg-class frigates have a 4,500-nautical-mile operating range and can handle threats in all three dimensions (air, surface, and underwater).

But, the major problem with upgraded Teg or Grigorivich-class frigates (that are being offered) is that they are lying half-built in Russia as they require Zorya gas-turbine engines from Ukraine.

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Ukraine refused to supply power plants to Russia

A defence ministry source said: "Ukraine has refused to supply power plants to Russia because of their continuing bilateral problems. But India can directly acquire the engines from Ukraine."

Indian FrigatesIndia started constructing its own stealth warships

India started constructing its stealth warships; three Shivalik-class 6,100-tonne frigates were already inducted.

Another Rs.50,000 crore contract for building seven 'Project-17A' stealth frigates was signed in Feb'15.

The Navy has 130 warships, 235 aircraft, and helicopters.

India is interested in Russian frigates as it aims for a 212-warship Navy by 2027 for safeguarding its vast geostrategic interests (Persian Gulf, Malacca Strait, and beyond) effectively.