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India, Russia to fast-track defence deals


New Delhi : Ahead of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit here later this month, a high-level panel Wednesday prepared the ground for fast-tracking defence deals between the two countries.

“Both sides discussed issues related to ongoing projects between the two countries such as Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, multi-role transport aircraft, T-90 tanks, airborne warning and control systems, upgradation of Sukhoi SU-30 MKI combat jets, the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov and medium lift helicopters,” a defence official said Wednesday.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) had Tuesday given its go-ahead to re-negotiating the price of the Gorshkov and the purchase of 80 medium-lift helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) from Russia.

Chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the CCS first cleared the IAF project to buy 80 Mi-17 medium-lift utility choppers, which will also be “weaponised” for combat operations, for around $1 billion.

But the second decision on the Gorshkov was more significant since India has been engaged in a bitter wrangle with Russia over its demand for an additional $2 billion over the contracted price of $1.5 billion. India has paid an initial $500 million to enable work on the carrier’s refurbishment to begin.

The HLMC, co-chaired by Indian defence secretary Vijay Singh and his Russian counterpart Mikhail Dmitriev, was established during the last meeting of the India Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) here Sep 29 under the joint chairmanship of the defence ministers of both countries.

The forum was established to not only monitor implementation of ongoing Military Technical Cooperation (MTC) activities but also identify new activities for enhancing cooperation by way of joint research, development and production of military hardware, including transfer of technology and cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries.