Russia back with all guns blazing

After losing some share of India’s defence space to the U.S. and other countries in recent years, Russia regained its footing with the agreements signed on Saturday.

Three agreements, worth $10 billion, were announced after the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. They are inter-governmental agreements (IGAs) for five S-400 Triumf air defence systems and four stealth frigates and a stakeholder agreement for a joint venture to make Kamov-226T helicopters in India.

Designed by the Almaz-Antey Central Design Bureau, the S-400 Triumf, referred to as SA-21 Growler by NATO, is considered one of the most advanced long-range defence systems in the world. It can tackle all airborne targets at a range of up to 400 km.

For India, this means Pakistani aircraft can be tracked even when they are in their airspace. The five systems, to be operated by the Indian Air Force, will cost over Rs.39,000 crore. India is the second export customer, after China which last year signed a $3-billion agreement for six systems that are expected to be delivered in 2017.

India and Russia also signed an inter-governmental agreement for four additional Krivak or Talwar class stealth frigates, which are expected to cost upwards of $3 billion. Two ships will be built in Russia and the other two in India with Russian assistance. India had earlier procured six frigates of the same class in two different batches. It has been very pleased with the performance of the 4,000-tonne frigates which packed a lot of fire-power given their size. The ships are armed with the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles. But it is surprising why India is going for additional frigates from Russia, when it is designing and building much bigger stealth ships.

Both sides have been discussing the agreement for some time, but it was delayed as India insisted on building the ships through the ‘Make in India’ route. The other reason for delay was Ukraine’s refusal to supply Russia with engines which are built by Zorya Nashproekt after the crisis in Crimea. However, the issue was sorted out, and Ukraine has no reservations about supplying engines to India.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Rostec State Corporation of Russia signed an agreement to set up a joint venture that will make Kamov-226T utility helicopters in India. Under the agreement, which is worth over $1 billion, at least 200 helicopters will be produced. They will replace the obsolete Cheetah and Chetak fleets of the armed forces. After induction, the Kamov helicopters, capable of operating at 20,000 feet, will help to maintain the forward posts on the Siachen glacier.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 5:41:12 AM |

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