NATIONAL

Russia agrees to speed up defence deals

Reaffirming ties:Rajnath Singh with Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Yury Ivanovich Borisov, in Moscow on June 23.pti

Reaffirming ties:Rajnath Singh with Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, Yury Ivanovich Borisov, in Moscow on June 23.pti  

Russia has agreed to quickly address some urgent defence requirements sought by India and this was discussed during the recent trip of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, defence and diplomatic sources said. The long-pending deals for AK-203 assault rifles and Ka-226T light utility helicopters were also discussed in a review of the entire gamut of defence cooperation.

India will present its requirements soon and Russia has agreed to address them within a few months, the sources said without elaborating. Mr. Singh was on a four-day visit to Moscow from June 21 for the 75th anniversary of the Victory Day Parade, during which he held talks with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov. The request comes against the backdrop of tensions with China along the Line of Actual Control and the large-scale mobilisation undertaken by the armed forces in response to the massive Chinese build-up.

S-400 by 2021-end

In a statement after the talks in Moscow, Mr. Singh said Russia had agreed that ongoing contracts would be maintained and “in a number of cases will be taken forward in a shorter time”. However, on the S-400 deal, the sources said the deliveries would start by the end of 2021 as scheduled and it was difficult to accelerate the deal any further. “No further acceleration is technically possible,” a diplomatic source said, while the Indian sources said the deliveries would be completed as per the contractual terms.

There is some progress on the AK-203 assault rifle deal which has been held up over pricing, another diplomatic source said.

The deal was for over 7.5 lakh rifles, of which one lakh would be imported and 6.71 lakh rifles manufactured by a joint venture (JV) Indo-Russian Rifles Private Ltd. (IRRPL) at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh.

However, the deal for 200 Ka-226T utility helicopters remains stuck over the level of indigenisation. To reach the indigenisation percentage as specified by the tender, Russia and India are evaluating the possibility of using Indian aviation materials in the production in India, which will give the programme a new indigenisation angle and also an impetus to the domestic aero industry.

“Another significant feature of the project is going to be the transfer to India of a number of crucial helicopter engineering technologies, including the unique coaxial scheme technologies,” two sources said, adding that India will have the choice to integrate domestic avionic and weapons. Of the 200 helicopters, 60 will be imported directly and the remaining will be manufactured by a JV between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. and the Russian Helicopters (RH).

Several MoUs have already been signed with domestic companies by RH for localising assemblies such as fuselage, blades, radio station and landing gear.

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