At the recent Russian-Indian summit a plan of military-technical cooperation for the next decade – 2021-2031 was signed.

The agreement was inked by the Head of the Russia Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) Dmitry Shugaev and Deputy Minister of Defence of India responsible for military procurement Kant Rag. This took place in the presence of Russian Defence Minister General Sergei Shoigu and his Indian counterpart Rajnath Singh.

A friendly meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also showed that Moscow remains New Delhi’s strategic partner for defence materiel. According to the Kremlin, the deal incorporates military exercises and personnel training, as well as technology transfer and the joint development and production of equipment – including those for the export market.

It looks like the countries have moved to a new level of strategic partnership. According to the Indian Ambassador to Moscow, Bala Venkatesh Varma, in 2018 the total amount of bilateral defence contracts was around US $2-3 billion. The current scale of concluded deals has reached US $14 billion. The figure was just disclosed by Dmitry Shugaev who also announced the total volume of the New Delhi orders from Moscow since 1991 is US $70 billion. One should remember examples such as a single contract for five regiments of the Almaz-Antey S-400 long-range air-defence missile system worth over US $5 billion with first deliveries this month.

According to Alexander Mikheev, CEO of the Russian State arms dealer Rosoboronexport, who spoke to reporters in Delhi on December 7, hundreds of Sukhoi multi-role fighters and over 2,500 Main Battle Tanks have been produced in India under license from Moscow.

” The long-term cooperation with the HAL corporation continues with the licensed production of the most massive aircraft of the Indian Air Force – the Su-30MKI. More than 220 units have been built here. In the interests of the country’s land forces in India, the HVF plant produces T-90 and T-72M1 tanks. About 900 T-90S and 1,500 T-72M1 have already been produced “, said Mr. Mikheev. He also mentioned the “Mango” ammunition which have been in a mass production at the artillery factories of the Indian Defense Ministry.

He stressed that India has always been and remains one of the key buyers of Russian equipment for decades.

” The main principle of cooperation is based on the “Make-in-India” program announced by the Indian government and successfully implemented by industry.

Rosoboronexport has been doing this for a long time, and we really have something to be proud of. Russia is the first country that has begun large-scale cooperation with India for technology transfer and the organization of production of Russian-developed products at Indian enterprises, ” said the head of Rosoboronexport.

In addition, he noted, consultations are underway on the T-90 upgrade program. Preliminary tests of several modernized systems installed on Indian tanks have been carried out. The tests results will be followed by a decision on the installation of upgrade packages.

In total over 100 projects are on the way, “creating a huge reserve for the high-tech industries development in both countries in the future” emphasized Alexander Mikheev.

He also that Rosoboronexport is to take part in the Indian light tank tender with the Sprut-SDM1(“Octopus”) amphibious tank from the High Precision Weapons holding company. Russia “will even offer the transfer of technology and, most likely, local build of several units and also parts production”, Mikheev said.

He recalled that the Sprut-SDM1:

“….is the only light amphibious combat vehicle in its class with the firepower of a main battle tank being armed with a 125-mm cannon. All ammunition produced in India for T-72M1 and T-90S tanks could be employed for the Sprut-SDM1.”

He added:

“The Russian side confirms its readiness to ensure, within two to three years, full-scale production of the latest version of Kalashnikov assault rifles, which will provide Indian power structures with modern small arms.”

According to him, the first batch of AK-203 assault rifles will be produced in India with varying degrees of local content and then full-scale production will begin.

“There is a peculiarity of launching production. The first 120,000 units of AK-203 assault rifles will be produced in India with a step-by-step increase in local content from 5% to 70%. The rest of the assault rifles will be produced with 100% local content,” said the Head of Rosoboronexport.

The Joint Venture being established is called the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited and the Indian Ministry of Defence signed a contract on December 6 for over 600,000 AK-203 units to be made at the Indian city of Corva to arm the country’s armed forces and law enforcement units. Thus, India may become the first foreign country to produce the “200” series of the Kalashnikov assault rifles.

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