Russia Remains India’s Main Supplier

Issue: 12-2021Photo(s): By Rosoboronexport
(Left) Su-30MKI Combat Aircraft; (Right) Sprut SDM1 Light Tank.

At the recent Russian-Indian summit, a plan of militarytechnical cooperation for the next decade - 2021-2031 and several related agreements were signed.

A friendly meeting of the Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stamped the fact that Moscow remains New Delhi’s favorable partner and the main source for defence equipment. It looks like the countries come into a new stage of strategic partnership.

According to the Indian Ambassador to Moscow Bala Venkatesh Varma, in 2018 the total amount of bilateral defence contracts was around $ 2-3 billion. The current scale of concluded deals has reached the amount of $ 14 billion. The figure was just disclosed by the Head of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSVTS) Dmitry Shugaev who also announced the total volume of the New Delhi orders from Moscow since 1991 was of $ 70 billion.

One of the agreements came out in February 2021, when New Delhi decided to upgrade 59 MiG-29 combat aircraft fleet with additional purchase of 21 units. The Government decided to allocate 74.1 billion rupees (about 71 billion rubles) on that deal. To avoid US sanctions both nations agreed to deal in the national currencies.

Moscow-New Delhi defence cooperation has been based on long-term contracts in a view of “Make in India” technology transfer and industrial localisation.

According to Alexander Mikheev, CEO of the Russian State arms dealer Rosoboronexport, who spoke to reporters in Delhi this Tuesday, hundreds of the Sukhoi multi-role fighters and over two and a half thousand MBT were produced in India under the Moscow license.

“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 produced 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 1500 T-72M1 have already been produced”, said Mikheev. He also mentioned the ‘Mango’ ammunition which have been in a mass production at the artillery factories of the Indian Defence 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 the 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 largescale cooperation with India in the format of technology transfer and organisation of production of Russian-developed products at Indian enterprises,” said the boss of Rosoboronexport.

In addition, he noted, consultations are underway on the T-90 upgrade program. Preliminary tests of several modernised systems installed on the tanks allocated by the Indian side have been carried out. The tests results are to follow by a decision on upgrade package installation.

In total, over 100 different projects are on the way, ‘creating a huge reserve for the high-tech industries development in both countries in the future,’ emphasised Alexander Mikheev.

He also claimed, that Rosoboronexport is to take part in the Indian light tanks tender with the Sprut-SDM1 (‘Octopus’) amphibious tank from the High Precision Weapons holding.

Russia ‘will even offer the transfer of technology and, most likely, localisation of several units and parts production’, Mikheev said. He recalled that 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 Sprut-SDM1”.

One of the latest example of bilateral cooperation is the Russian-Indian joint venture for the Kamov Ka-226 light helicopter production. The agreement unites Rostec Corporation, Russian Helicopters and HAL of India to manufacture 200 rotorcraft for the Indian Army Aviation and Air Force. The initial production has already started at the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant near the lake Baykal in Siberia. The plant will be the main partner of HAL to produce their assembly kits for the Indian assembly. The Ka-226 enjoys the versatile design to be used in transport, passenger, SAR and medical evacuation variants. The machine has been digitally designed with a use of composite materials, up-to-date engine and avionics, being well adopted for highland operations.

Russian-Indian cooperation also works well in the field of small arms. The December 2021 summit reconfirmed the March 2019 deal on production line of the Russian AK-203 assault rifles. The line is launched in the Indian city of Corva with intention to produce over 600 thousand units locally.