India and Russia will launch the joint fifth generation fighters by year end and have agreed to collaborate to develop heavy lift cargo helicopters and futuristic infantry combat vehicles.
The path for more hi-tech defence collaboration between Moscow and New Delhi was paved with the signing of the joint defence protocol by Defence Minister AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov.
The protocol extends military interaction between the two countries till 2020 and this is expected to make the path clear for inking more major defence joint ventures during the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in early December.
The protocol was signed here at the end of 9th session of India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on military-technical cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) after assurances from Moscow that all pending issues like the delivery of aircraft carrier Gorshkov and nuclear submarine Nerpa would be resolved at the earliest.
The protocol provides for completion of formalities by the year end to launch the joint designing, development and production of fifth generation fighter aircraft project.
Besides the development of a state-of-the-art multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) through a joint venture along the lines of highly successful BrahMos JV, India and Russia have also agreed to jointly develop a heavy lift cargo helicopter and futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV).
A joint statement released after the meeting said that India and Russia will collaborate in up-gradation of IAF's main strike fighter Su-30MKI, the older Mig-27 and T-72M1 battle tanks.
It said that the two sides had also worked out the production in India of Main Battle Tanks (MBT) T-90S with full technology transfer.
In his closing statement at the 9th session of IRIGC-MTC - the apex body for coordination of defence cooperation, Antony announced that both sides have agreed to extend their military interaction programme till 2020 and the concrete projects would be identified shortly for signing during Singh's Moscow visit in December.
"On many other issues, including the Admiral Gorshkov project, we have agreed to continue discussions to find mutually acceptable solutions," Antony said expressing confidence that all the pending issues would be resolved at the earliest.
New Delhi and Moscow have also agreed to ink an inter-government pact on after sales and product support, so far the weakest link in defence cooperation with Moscow.
"This agreement should also be signed during the forthcoming summit," Antony said.
Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, who is the co-chairman of the inter-governmental commission said, "some extra measures," have been taken to eliminate problems, in an apparent reference to delay in delivery of the Gorshkov and nuclear powered Nerpa submarine.
The Russian Minster said, unlike ties with other countries, Indo-Russian defence ties related to hi-technology.
"Our cooperation has confidently moved from buyer-seller relationship to joint research, development and production of hi-tech weapon systems and platforms," he said.
Describing his discussions and meetings with Kremlin top brass as "constructive, free and frank," Antony said that the two countries now had better appreciation of each others position on various issues.
"Both sides have identified a wide range of areas for future cooperation, including joint research, development and production of defence equipment and systems," the Indian Defence Minister said. PTI
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