It’s efforts will not hamper relations, says top defence official
India’s marked emphasis on self-reliance in defence as enunciated in the latest edition of the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP-2013) will not hamper the long-standing defence ties with Russia, says Victor M. Komardin, Deputy Director General of Russian defence export agency Rosoboronexport.
In a conversation with The Hindu on the sidelines of the Naval and Maritime Expo here on Monday, Mr. Komardin said Russia was ‘capable and willing’ to extend all support to India in fulfilling its goal of self-reliance.
“Of the 47 ships under construction for the Indian Navy at the moment, the only one constructed outside the country [INS Vikramaditya] is done by us. We’ve just done three frigates for the Indian Navy. We are the only country that has built submarines for them …. After DPP-2013 was released, many private Indian shipyards came to us for cooperation. All that is needed now is to finalise specific, concrete projects. We are prepared, technically,” he said.
On the sinking of the Russian-origin Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhurakshak in a fire accident in Mumbai last month, Mr. Komardin said the Indian side had the ‘moral and ethical responsibility’ to find out what caused the accident. “If it doesn’t have anything to do with manufacture or design, we may not be interested to know.”
The submarine, he said, was ‘Indian property’ and it would be ‘improper’ on the part of the Russians to demand information on the incident. “If it is human factor, as is widely assumed, it answers itself,” he added.
On the issue of another round of refit of the nine Kilo-class submarines left in service with the Indian Navy, he said it was for the users to determine if the subs needed a refit. “We don’t know what the condition of the submarines is like. Combat readiness is a state secret,” he quipped.
As for the Kilo-class submarine INS Sindhukirti, which has been undergoing upgrade at Hindustan Shipyard for several years now, Mr. Komardin said the refit would take time as “we are making something new.”
While the submarines of the class were upgraded in Russia in less than two years, retrofitting them in India meant setting up the infrastructure, imparting critical skills, transferring technology and the like, which took considerable time, he maintained.
On India’s upcoming bid for the second line of conventional submarines under Project 75-I, he said Russia was in a position to ensure fast delivery of its Amur-class, if bought off-the-shelf. If you wanted to integrate something like the BrahMos cruise missile or the underdevelopment air independent propulsion, it was also possible. It would then take time to get operational. It was for the Indian side to take a call on this, he said.