India, Russia to develop most advanced fighter jet
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Last Updated: Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 20:57
  
Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: Taking defence cooperation to a new level, India and Russia on Tuesday firmed up plans to jointly design and manufacture a most advanced stealth fighter by signing a preliminary design contract in the run up to the mega defence project that may touch the $30 billion mark.

The contract envisages joint development of preliminary design contract (PDC) for the advanced fighter jet and will involve Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) from India and the Sukhoi Design Bureau and Rosoboronexport on the Russian side.

The agreement, along with 29 other India-Russian pacts, was signed after talks here between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Dmitry Medvedev, who is here on a two-day visit.

The 30-tonne aircraft will have very advanced avionics, stealth to increase survivability and enhanced lethality, according to Indian Air Force (IAF) officers. It will have the capability to launch air-to-air, air-to-surface and air-to-ship missiles.

With each FGFA costing at least $100 million, and IAF looking to induct some 300 of them from 2017-18, the deal will be worth $30 billion - the biggest biggest defence project undertaken by India.

The fighter jet whose joint production was agreed on in 2007, is intended to compete with the US F-22 Raptor, so far the world's only operational fifth-generation fighter, and the under production F-35 Lightning II. Both aircraft are manufactured by a consortium led by Lockheed Martin.

During their meeting, the two leaders also expressed satisfaction at the regular service-to-service interactions and joint exercises that have taken place between their countries.

The two sides also agreed to make efforts to upgrade joint military exercises in various fields including counter- terrorism.

India and Russia share a long standing defence and strategic partnership that goes back to the Cold War era.

Russia has been India's largest defence supplier. Notching up sales worth over $40 billion since the 1960s, nearly 70 percent of India's military hardware comes from Russia.

Amid fierce competition from the US, France, and other western countries, there have been certain concerns over delayed deliveries, shortage of spares and huge cost escalations by Russian defence firms.

For example, the ongoing refit of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov has been hit by huge delays and cost escalation. India will now get the carrier in 2013 -- instead of the earlier August 2008 -- by paying $2.3 billion instead of the $1.5 billion fixed in January 2004.

But that hasn't deterred the bilateral defence partnership from going further north.

A joint statement issued after the Manmohan Singh-Medvedev talks said the two sides "acknowledged that the traditionally close cooperation between the two countries in the military-technical field is a major pillar of the strategic partnership".

"It is a reflection of the trust and confidence that has built up between the two countries over the last half century," the joint statement added.

-Agencies inputs


First Published: Tuesday, December 21, 2010, 20:57


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