By Rohit Srivastava
India and Russia, on Wednesday, agreed to form working groups for after-sales support to India on key defence systems. The two strategic partners also discussed the Logistic Support Agreement (LSA), north ocean joint passage of ships, sources informed.
The decisions were made during the 19th India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) meeting, co-chaired by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Russian Defence Minister General Sergey Shoigu, in Moscow.
“Our partnership with Russia will give a major boost to Make in India initiative. Received Strong support from Defense Minister Shoigu for Defence Expo 2020,” the Minister of Defence said in a tweet.
“I also welcome the strong Russian support for early operationalisation of Kalashnikov Joint Venture,” he added.
"Today's meeting is held in a new format - we consider issues of cooperation in the military and technical areas. During the work, we will sum up the results of joint activities over the past period and fix the priorities in the protocol, the draft of which was prepared by our experts", - Sergei Shoigu said.
A Protocol was signed by the two ministers during the meeting.
According to a government statement, Rajnath Singh “highlighted the importance of the Inter-Governmental Agreement on the manufacturing of spares, components and aggregates in India through joint ventures that would reduce cost, timelines of supply and result in progressive indigenisation. This agreement is expected to provide a major boost to the ‘Make in India’ initiative.”
Russia, during the meeting, reiterated its commitment to support India in enhancing its capabilities in advance and cutting-edge defence technology.
“The Russian side affirmed its readiness to operationalise the joint venture lndo-Russia Rifles Private Limited for the manufacture of world-class Kalashnikov AK 203 rifles in India at the earliest,” the statement said.
According to sources, the two sides decided to increase after-sales support to improve operational availability of Russian system through implementing the inter-governmental agreement (IGA) on spares production in India. The IGA was signed during the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Vladivostok on September 4. An agreement was also reached on a single-window, subscriber-based, system for maintenance of big platforms like ships, aircraft etc.
An Indian industrial delegation, comprised of industry leaders from both the private and public sector, is also in Russia.
The IGA framework gives the assurance of business order for a minimum of five years. Russian platforms identified for cooperation to manufacture spares and components include Sukhoi Su-30, MIG 29, Mi-17 helicopters, MIG 29 K/KUB, INS Vikramaditya, T-72 and T-90.
Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM) is the nominated Industry body to facilitate the Industry's involvement in the manufacturing of spares and items in India.
“We will soon share with the Russian Side the list of spares and items, proposed to be manufactured in India. I hope that the Russian Side will identify the OEMs in the next few months who can partner in the production of these spares,” minister said in a tweet.
The two sides also appreciated the MiG-29 operability and set a target for solving the remaining issues at the earliest. On the T-90 tanks, both sides decided to finalize the terms and start the extension to end of 2020.
On the much-awaited Logistic Support Agreement, the two sides will finalize the fine print of the text for signing. Against the expectation, it is not to be signed during the next BRICS summit, sources informed.
The meeting also discussed the much in news Su-30MKI upgrade and decided that India will develop the prototype of the upgrade at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Indian Air Force is working on the staff requirements for the upgrade programme.
In a major strategic decision, next year the two nations are going to participate in the joint passage of ships through the Arctic Ocean. This is expected to have global strategic ramification as the climate change is opening the northern ocean for ships.
Indian Defence Minister invited the Russian companies to participate in the Defence Expo, and his Russian counterpart assured him of robust Russian participation.
As a special gesture, on the invitation of Russian President an lndian Military Contingent in Army Parade on the occasion of 75th Anniversary of the victory in the Second World War.