The biennial Aero India show in Bengaluru had its traditional large Russian participation and provided the occasion for expansive claims of defence cooperation prospects. Russian products being showcased included fighter and military transport aircraft, multirole helicopters, air defence and radar systems. Russian Industry Minister Manturov was reported to have presented to Raksha Mantri Sitharaman the unique features of the MiG-35 fighter jet, including competitive life cycle cost and “a brand-new standard of product support services, with the supplier taking comprehensive responsibility for serviceability” – an acknowledgement of the chronic problems of after-sales support with Russian defence platforms. It was also reported that the IAF may place orders of 18 additional Su-30MkI and 21 additional MiG29 aircraft, and that a number of other systems were under consideration.
Moving from the aspirational to the concrete, Russian companies signed MoUs with Indian public and private sector companies for production of parts like fuselages, blades and landing gear for the Ka226T helicopters to be manufactured by an India-Russia joint venture. A joint venture to manufacture assault rifles (Kalashnikovs) at the Korwa ordnance factory in UP is apparently on course; PM Modi laid the foundation stone on March 3. The Brahmos joint venture announced the induction of a lighter version of the air to air missile, which the MiG29s can also carry.
There was some confusion about the status of the contract for the S-400 air defence system, which was signed during President Putin’s India visit in October 2018. Russian Deputy PM Borisov had confirmed that advance payments are being received and the Russian vendor Rosoboronexport announced that the contract had come into effect. However, the head of the arms major Rostec (holding company of Rosoboronexport) indicated on February 18 that the advance payments had still not been received.
February 28, 2019