On the sidelines of Goa BRICS summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have initiated measures that could accelerate civil-military cooperation between the two countries, taking it out of the orbit of purely military cooperation. The move may help balance India’s Russia-US policy.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Sunday that Russia and India will work together to extend the range of BrahMos missiles and to build a fifth-generation aircraft. He also asked the Russian industry to participate in India’s ‘Make in India’ programme to expand cooperation in civil economy.
“We will supply and improve the BrahMos missile system. We will make its ground, air and sea-based modifications. We have agreed to work on the extension of the range of these systems. We will also work together on a fifth-generation plane,” he said.
The Indian Air Force is keenly interested in the know-why and know-how of T-50 fighter jets. Russia’s Aerospace Forces may be provided with the first batch of fifth-generation PAK FA T-50 jets next year, Aerospace Force commander Viktor Bondarev told the Russian media on Friday. Going by President Putin’s statement, India and Russia may collaborate to build T-50 fighter jets under Make in India programme through a joint venture firm to be patterned on BrahMos.
“We will be through with its testing next year. The first five planes are priced in the contract,” Bondarev said. “I believe that next year we will have the five planes in question.” He added the fighter jet would begin to be batch-produced shortly after that.
The T-50 aircraft is the quintessence of all advanced technologies in Russia’s aircraft-building. Little is known about its characteristics and the larger part of the information is kept a secret so far.
It is known that the PAK FA incorporates a whole range of carbon fiber reinforced polymers for the first time ever. They are twice as lighter as aluminum of comparable strength and titanium and four or five times lighter than steel. The new materials make up 70% of the fighter jet’s coating, which has allowed developers to reduce its design weight: the T-50 weighs four times less than an aircraft made of traditional materials.
According to sources, the Russian military is interested in buying the BrahMos cruise missiles, which were developed jointly with India, for equipping its Sukhoi Su-30SM fighters. “The new missile strike system – a plane plus a cruise missile – will be first made operational with the Indian Air Force. After that the Russian Air Force, which is very interested, may buy the system,” they added.
The negotiations for this with the Russian side may begin in 2017 after flights tests of the Indian Su-30MKI fighters with the BrahMos missile are completed. The Indian Air Force fighter with a demonstrator of the BrahMos missile’s air-launched cruise version performed the first flight this summer. The first aircraft launches of the missile are expected to take place by the end-year. India plans to equip three regiments of the Su-30MKI fighters with the updated missiles. The Indian military currently has in service the missile’s ground and sea-launched versions.
The Su-30SM multifunctional fighter is an upgrade of the export Su-30MKI version. It was improved in line with the Russian Defense Ministry’s requirements regarding the armaments, radar, communications, IFF transceiver systems and other equipment. The first contracts for the supply of the Su-30SM fighters to the Russian army were concluded in 2012.
On the concluding day of Goa BRICS summit, Putin said he is satisfied with Russia’s military-technical cooperation with India. However, he added this was not the only sphere of bilateral cooperation that is of interest for the sides. According to Putin, great possibilities stem from the development of “civil economy” as India’s population is big enough and its incomes are rather high.
So, in his words, Russian manufacturers should get going into the Indian market. For this purpose, a new Russia-India investment fund may be set up. To begin with, it may finance the projects Russian truck manufacturer Kamaz, Russian Railways, and Russian Helicopters in India, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) said Sunday.
“We consider the cooperation with Kamaz and other companies, which could get equity financing from RDIF for implementing joint projects. These deals will be signed next year. We are ready to cooperate with the Russia Helicopters… Russian Railways and other big companies. We hope this agreement will allow our business to work in India easily and more effectively ,” Kirill Dmitriev told RIA Novosti.
According to Dmitriev, with regard to Kamaz, the parties are debating the possibility of organizing the production of trucks in India. Different options for cooperation between Russian Railways and the Indian partners are being considered.