India to jointly develop and produce fighter aircraft with Russia
Decks were today cleared for India to jointly develop and produce the fifth generation fighter aircraft with Russia, with New Delhi making the "final choice" on the matter and Moscow saying the work on signing contracts on the deal could begin soon.
Observing that Russia had started developing the warplane about three years ago, visiting Deputy Premier and Defence Minister Sergei B Ivanov said "some time back, India showed interest in joining this project. It took them (India) some time to scrutinize the various options.
"Now, India has informed us that a final choice has been made. We can (now) open up contractual work for Indian accession to the project", Ivanov told reporters at a joint press conference with his Indian counterpart A K Antony after signing four documents.
Although interaction has begun now on the joint development and production of fifth generation fighter jet, the actual signing of agreements could take some more time.
The two sides signed an inter-governmental agreement and a general contract for licensed production of the RD-33 aero engines.
A protocol of intent was signed by Antony and Ivanov on the medium- size multi-role transport aircraft (MTA). The two leaders also signed the minutes of the sixth meeting of the Indo-Russia Inter-governmental Committee on Military Technical Cooperation.
The fifth generation fighter is based on the Sukhoi fighter and is expected to take its maiden flight in 2009.
After signing the protocol the multi-role transport aircraft, Antony said, "we are looking forward towards joint development and production of the MTA for use in the Indian and the Russian air forces and for sale to third countries".
Ivanov said discussions were also held on the prospects for the future supply of MiG-35 fighters to India. New Delhi has announced its intent of acquiring 125 multi-role combat aircraft for the air force.
The Russian Minister said talks were also held on repair and refurbishing of the heavy aircraft carrier 'Admiral Gorshkov' being acquired by India.
On his part, the Indian Defence Minister said Indo-Russian cooperation had transcended the buyer-seller relationship to joint research and development and production projects, the BrahMos cruise missile being a "successful chapter in our relations".
Observing that the bilateral relations had undergone "substantial transformation" in the recent past, Ivanov joined Antony in saying that the two countries would begin work on scientific and
technological cooperation and work on joint projects from 2010.
"I can assure you that Russia will undertake every effort to develop all aspects of scientific and technological cooperation with India".
Referring to the BrahMos project, the Russian leader said there was a continuity of joint activity on the cruise missile and efforts were being made to develop a new highly effective cruise missile of a new generation.
Russia would cooperate with India on peaceful use of nuclear energy and the issue would be discussed during the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Observing that Russia has been cooperating with India for meeting the latter's nuclear energy needs, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said "this issue will probably be discussed during Putin's visit here".
"Our cooperation (with India) will continue on the development of peaceful nuclear energy", Ivanov said in response to questions.
Putin, in an interview to PTI, has said Moscow would help New Delhi "directly" in the construction of atomic energy facilities and declared that "we stand ready to support our Indian friends".
Cooperation in the construction of new reactors, supply of nuclear fuel and transfer of reprocessing technology are on the anvil during the Russian leader's visit beginning tomorrow.
In this context, Ivanov referred to Russian aid and cooperation in two nuclear plants at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.
Source : New Delhi (IRNA)
MiG-35, parked on Berlin Air Show 2006 after a demonstration flight / Photo by Hans-Jurgen Rath Akrisios (www.mosnews.com/money/2007/01/24/indiamig.shtml)
Published: January 25, 2007