Bilateral defence relations and several ongoing projects will come in for review when Defence Minister A.K. Antony travels to Moscow for the annual meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) next week.

He will be there on October 14 and 15 for the ninth round of the meeting, held alternately in India and Russia.

The projects to be reviewed include production of T-90S tanks, modernisation of SU-30MKI aircraft, BrahMos missiles, progress in the development of Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft and Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MRTA) and possibly the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov (INS Vikramaditya) deal.

A key topic during the discussion Mr. Antony will have with his Russian counterpart, A.E. Serdyukov, is the extension of the IRIGC-MTC for another decade — from 2011 to 2020. Both countries concluded the agreement in December 1988, envisaging defence cooperation till 2010.

The extension of the programme has been under consideration and was discussed during the 2007 meeting between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then Russian President Vladimir Putin. The discussions at the commission-level will pave the way for concluding the agreement during Dr. Singh’s Russia visit in December.

India is expected to convey its keenness in ensuring that the development of the Fifth-Generation Fighter Aircraft is completed by 2016 so that its induction into the Indian Air Force could begin in 2017 as anticipated.

New Delhi and Moscow have been discussing the formation of a joint venture company to execute the MRTA project. It includes the design, development and production of the 15 to 20-tonne class to meet the requirements of the armed forces of both countries.

Continuation of the joint venture BrahMos is also expected to figure in the discussion in the light of talks for the development of next generation of hypersonic cruise missile — BrahMos-2 — and for integration of the existing BrahMos with SU-30MKI.

Another pending issue is finalisation of the price for Admiral Gorshkov, now undergoing refit and repairs in Russia. Both sides are holding negotiations in the wake of Russia demanding up to $2.9 billion, as against its earlier revised price of $2.2 billion.

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