Russia and India are holding negotiations for the supply of 48 Russian Mi-17 military transport helicopters with Moscow hoping to seal the deal by the year end, a top Russian official has said.
Russian arms supplier Rosoboronexport's CEO Alexander Mikheev said India has more than 300 helicopters belonging to the Mi-8 and Mi-17 family, which are deployed in troop and arms transport, fire support, convoy escort, patrol, and search-and-rescue (SAR) missions.
India knows their specifications well, Mr Mikheev said and added Russia and India are holding talks with a view to sign a contract for 48 (Mi-17V-5) helicopters and the techno-commercial negotiations are set to commence.
"We hope that we will reach an agreement before the end of this year," he said.
Last year, Russia had handed over to India the final batch of three Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters under a previously signed contract with Rosoboronexport, a company of the Rostec State Corporation, that entailed a total of 151 units of the Mi-17V-5 helicopter, produced by the Kazan Helicopter Plant.
Designed to transport cargo inside the cabin and on an external sling, the Mi-17V-5 is considered to be one of the world's most advanced military transport helicopters. Mi-17V-5, supplied to India, ranks among the most technically advanced helicopters of the Mi-8/17 type, incorporating the best engineering solutions of previous generations.
In 2008, Rosoboronexport signed a contract for the delivery of 80 Mi-17V-5 to India, which was completed in 2011 -2013. In 2012-2013, three additional contracts were signed to supply a total of 71 Mi-17V-5 helicopters to meet the needs of the Indian Air Force.
Talking about other projects that are under discussion between Russia and India, Mr Mikheev said, "We are discussing a programme for modernisation of SU-30 with our Indian partners. The aircraft park is quite large."
"During a period of 15 years, we have fulfilled all our obligations to the Indian party, the HAL Corporation -- supplied quite a large aircraft park, over 200, under the license agreement -- and we are offering new developments of our design bureaus," he said.
"Moreover, the Indian Air Force has some requirements for improvement of performance and operational characteristics, mainly with regard to avionics, electronic warfare systems, as well as updates of weapon systems by both Indian and Russian companies," he said.
Mr Mikheev said Russia was already considering the capabilities of the Indian industry within the framework of the "Make in India" programme and noted that under it a well- known project was the joint venture for Kamov 226T helicopters.
Asked about the first Russia-India military-industrial conference in March where some questions concerning the problem with spare parts were raised, Mr Mikheev said the industrial conference was jointly held by Russia's Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Valentinovich Manturov and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley during which both sides reached an agreement on the issue.
"I think that it's actually a big plus in our relations. We have agreed that the programme of after-sales services will be participated by Russian dedicated holding companies, in order to ensure the operation of previously supplied equipment throughout its lifecycle. It's 20, 30, 40 years -- whether it be a submarine, a helicopter, a tank, etc.," Mr Mikheev said.
"We have specified six companies that will carry out direct cooperation with both operators of Russian equipment and Indian companies that will be charged with operating this equipment and manufacturing its spare parts," he said.
Mr Mikheev named the six companies that will carry out direct cooperation as -- the United Shipbuilding Corporation, the United Aircraft Corporation, Russian Helicopters, the United Engine Corporation, Almaz-Antey and Tactical Missile Corporation.
Rosoboronexport is the only state-owned arms trade company in the Russian federation authorised to export the full range of military and dual purpose products, technologies and services.