Friday, December 19, 2008

India and Russia Agree on Helo Deal, Review Joint Defense Projects

India agreed to buy 80 Mil Mi-17V-5 helicopters worth $1.2 billion during a visit to Delhi by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev early this month. These will replace 35-year old Mi-8 choppers the Indian Air Force currently flies. The deal includes weapons options and an offset obligation worth $405 million. Accompanying Medvedev were Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdukov and United Aircraft Corp. chief Alexei Fedorov.

Most of the key Indo-Russian defense projects were discussed during the visit, including the joint development of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA); modernization and transfer of Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov to India; multipurpose cargo aircraft, a long-mooted joint development; and the delivery of more Su-30MKI combat aircraft and licensed production by Hindustan Aeronautics.  Regarding the FGFA, Fedorov said the two countries would sign a contract early next year to jointly develop the fighter. Sukhoi is already working on the project.

Additionally, Medvedev said the two countries must agree on a revised contract for the troubled modernization and transfer of the Admiral Gorshkov carrier to India, but no progress was reported during the talks. In 2004, Rosboronexport signed a $750 million contract for the work, but Russia subsequently claimed another $1.2 billion would be required to overhaul the ship and deliver MiG-29K fighters and Ka-27/31 helicopters.

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