Russia remains key arms supplier to India: Official
Moscow: Russia remains a key weapons supplier to India with USD 3.5 billion worth of new arms export deals concluded last year and a bright future for bilateral military-technical cooperation.
"The country (India) is one of the main importers of defence products on the global scale, and Russia continues to be one of its key suppliers," said Viktor Komardin, Deputy General Director of Rosoboronexport, ahead of his visit to the Aero India 2013, international aerospace show in Bangalore.
At present, Russian weapons account for about 70 per cent of all military hardware in service with the Indian Armed Forces.
Komardin, who heads the Russian delegation to the six-day show starting tomorrow said, "We expect Rosoboronexport to annually ship at least USD 3 billion worth of weapons and material under the contracts that have already been signed with the Indian state clients."
Last year alone, Russia concluded more than USD 3.5 billion worth of new arms export agreements with India, including the purchase of 71 Mi-17B-5 Hip helicopters and the delivery of assembly kits for 42 Su-30MKI Flanker fighters, while the current portfolio of Indian contracts is worth more than USD 7 billion.
Komardin also discussed future plans of the state arms exporter in India.
"We are talking over plans to upgrade the country`s fleet of Ka-28 antisubmarine helicopters and Su-30MKIs, and to supply a batch of Mi-17V-5 to the Indian Interior Ministry. There are some other promising projects, too, and not just in aviation," he was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying.
However, Komardin pointed to growing competition in the field of arms import, with the Russians losing out on two key deals last year, the contract to supply 22 helicopters to India where the US AH-64D Apache won and the approximately USD 10 billion deal to replace the ageing MiG-21s by the Indian Air Force, where France`s Dassault Rafale raced ahead.
Accepting that such competition as natural, Komardin said, "I would like to emphasise that we have abandoned the practise of simple selling, seeking more of joint programmes to produce defence equipment, including for third parties. This gives us a chance to keep slightly ahead of our key rivals".
An example of such cooperation is the development of the Russian-Indian Multi-Role Military Transport Aircraft (MTA), which is expected to fly for the first time in 2017 and enter production both in Russia and India in 2019.
An agreement to set up a joint venture to develop and produce the plane was signed between India`s Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) and Russia`s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) in New Delhi in September 2010.
The Aero India 2013 in Bangalore from February 6-11 will most likely see Russia making another attempt to promote its aircraft, including the Be-200 amphibious plane, in the Indian market.
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