India, Russia to soon ink advanced fighter deal


New Delhi : India and Russia will soon sign a multi-billion dollar agreement to co-develop an advanced stealth fighter, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said Thursday after talks with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov.

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Antony, at a joint press conference with Serdyukov termed the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) deal and another joint venture on developing a multi-role transport aircraft (MTA) “shining examples of defence cooperation between the two countries”.

The two countries have already signed a shareholding agreement on the MTA, Antony said.

An official who did not want to be named said the FGFA contract was the focus of the Antony-Serdyukov talks.

Sources said the FGFA preliminary design contract is likely to be inked during Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s proposed visit to India in December.

The 30-tonne stealth aircraft — each priced at around $100 million — will have very advanced avionics, stealth to increase survivability and enhanced lethality, according to IAF officials.

The Indian Air Force alone plans to acquire around 250 fighters, making the deal worth $25 billion.

The twin-engine MTA, fitted with modern avionics, is a 15-20 tonne payload capacity aircraft with a maximum take-off weight of up to 65 tonnes and a cruise speed of 800 kmph. The total development cost is estimated at over $600 million to be equally shared by both sides.

India and Russia share a long standing defence and strategic partnership that goes back to the Cold War era.

“In the area of defence, Russia is our trusted partner for a long time and will remain so in the future also,” Antony said after his talks with Serdyukov.

Serdyukov arrived in India Wednesday for the 10th annual meeting the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation.

The focus of the meeting, jointly chaired by Antony and Serdyukov, was on extending the existing bilateral agreement on military-technical cooperation.

Serdyukov is be accompanied by a delegation of Russian defence ministry and industry representatives.

The commission’s sessions are held annually and alternate between New Delhi and Moscow.

At the last meeting of the commission in Moscow, the two countries committed to military cooperation until 2020 which comprises about 200 joint projects, including the modernisation of the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier that the Indian Navy has purchased, the transfer of technology for the licensed production of T-90 tanks in India, the production of BrahMos missiles and the purchase of Smerch MLRS by India.