Russia remains India’s largest arms suppliers, according to the Indian Ambassador to Moscow, Bala Venkatesh Varma.
At the upcoming Russian-Indian summit, a plan of military-technical cooperation for the next decade is to be announced and new agreements in the field of military-technical cooperation will be signed, the Ambassador announced. He confirmed that Russia “has again become India’s main partner in the defence industry.”
The Ambassador claimed that in 2018, when he was assigned his current position, the total amount of bilateral defence contracts was between US$2 and 3Bn. The volume of the current order backlog is US$9-10Bn, Mr. Varma stressed.
The latest contract was signed in February 2021, when New Delhi decided to amend its fleet of 59 MiG-29 combat aircraft with an additional 21 examples. The Government decided to allocate 74.1 billion rupees (about 71 billion rubles) for the deal. To avoid US sanctions, both nations agreed on the price in their national currencies.
Moscow-New Delhi defence cooperation is based on long-term contracts considering “Make in India” technology transfer requirements and local industry participation. Currently over 200 joint programmes are underway.
Joint Missile Programmes
Among them is the BrahMos Aerospace joint venture between NPOMash of Russia and DRDO of India. According to Praveen Pathak, BrahMos Marketing Director, the company has been working on the new generation missile designated BRAHMOS-NG. The company official expects to enter the market with a new project within three to four years.
According to Mr. Pathak, the weight of the new missile will be reduced to about 1,500 kg with a flight speed of Mach 3 – 5. The missile can also be offered for export to arm the Russian fifth generation Su-57 aircraft and India’s TEJAS, Mr. Pathak said.
The agreement to equip five regiments with the S-400 TRIUMPH surface-to-air-missile system is one of the crucial elements of the Russian-Indian defence cooperation. The agreement was signed at the end of October 2018, with the programme to be completed by 2025. According to Rosoboronexport, the first regiment delivery is expected at the end of 2021.
The Maritime Dimension
The 11356 Project multipurpose frigates have been another long-term project of Russian-Indian cooperation. The “iron fist” of the frigate is the 8 CLUB-N (CALIBER-NK) supersonic cruise missiles. It also employs the:
- SHTIL-1 (CALM) air defence system (ADS)
- KASHTAN (CHESTNUT) ADS
- IGLA(NEEDLE) ADS
- A-190E 100-mm artillery mount
- anti-submarine weaponry including DTA-53 and RBU-6000
On 28 October 2021, the seventh frigate for the Indian Navy, named TUSHIL, was launched at Yantar Baltic Shipyard in Kaliningrad. The frigate construction programme is to continue with two more vessels scheduled for construction at the Indian Goa Shipyard. Russia has three vessels of this class: ADMIRAL GRIGOROVICH, ADMIRAL ESSEN and ADMIRAL MAKAROV.
One of the latest examples of Russian-Indian cooperation is the joint venture for the Kamov Ka-226 light helicopter production. The agreement unites the Rostec Corporation, the Russian Helicopters holding and India’s HAL to build 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 the assembly kits for the Indian production line. The Ka-226 has been designed for use in transport, passenger, SAR and medical evacuation variants.
Russian-Indian cooperation also works well in the field of small arms. In March 2019, the production line of the Russian AK-203 assault rifles was launched in the Indian City of Corva with the objective to produce over 700 thousand units locally.