The final agreement for the joint development and production of a fifth generation fighter aircraft could be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in November, diplomatic sources told The Hindu on Thursday.
Preparations are under way in both countries for the summit-level meeting to impart a qualitative boost to defence cooperation.
Agreeing that differences exist, sources said without getting into the details that “a workaround has been found and discussions are in an advanced stage” and an agreement could be reached “by autumn”. The final deal is likely to be signed in November.
The agreement on the fighter aircraft has been stuck because of differences in the work share between Sukhoi and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). As the project is to have equal investment from each side, India has been insisting on parity in the work share. So far, both sides have invested $295 million for the preliminary design. India had some reservations on the engine and stealth characteristics.
India has requested Russia to let its pilots fly the T-50 prototypes currently under testing. A decision by Russia on this is expected shortly. India plans to induct 144 fighters and the entire project is expected to cost over $30 billion. The first batch of aircraft is expected to be handed over to the Russian Air Force in early 2017.