Manohar Parrikar visits Russia with eye on military contracts

He wants to give a firm shape to these deals ahead of the PM’s visit 

New Delhi : Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is currently on a two-nation visit to Russia and Malaysia. Topping his agenda are negotiations in Mosocow for the next-generation Russian S-400 air defence missile systems and exploring the possibility of leasing a second nuclear submarine to India.

According to highly placed Defence Ministry sources, the thrust of Parrikar’s visit to Mosocw will be to give a firm shape to those military contracts which could be signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s forthcoming visit to Moscow next month.

“There is no doubt that Russia has been India’s very reliable and abiding partner in military technology. As a skilful Defence Minister, Mr Parrikar needs to review and renew our relationship with Russia. There are many areas where India can still benefit from Russia in meeting many challenges, particularly underwater. In submarines, India had a very old relationship with Russia and was totally dependent on Russia. Next month’s visit of PM Modi to Russia will consolidate India’s ties,” C. Uday Bhaskar, a veteran defence analyst who heads the Society for Policy Studies (SPS), told The Free Press Journal on Monday.

The S-400 air defence missile systems which India is seeking from Russia is capable of destroying incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400-km.  Discussions will also veer towards India’s interest in leasing a second nuclear-powered submarine from Russia. In 2010, India had begun a 10-year lease of the nuclear-powered attack Akula-class submarine, Nerpa. After joining India’s Navy, the submarine was renamed INS Chakra.

Another major project is the joint development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) which has been lying in cold storage as India’s focus, under the new NDA government, has shifted to the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas.

Parrikar”s discussions in Moscow will also aim to wrap up an agreement with Russia, to be signed during Modi’s December visit, for manufacturing 200 Kamov 226T helicopters in India under the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The joint manufacture had been proposed by Modi to Russian president Putin during his visit to New Delhi last year. Later, the Indian Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) had cleared the proposal for joint manufacture.

The Defence Minister is also co-chairing the meeting of the Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGCMTC) being held on Monday. He is slated to visit a ship building research institute in St Petersburg.

After his three-day visit to Russia, the Defence Minister will have a halt in Malaysia to attend the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) in Kuala Lumpur.

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