Indian Defence Minister’s Visit to Russia Boosts Strategic Ties

India's defense minister, Shri Rajnath Singh, three day visit to Russia from November 5 to November 7, 2019 was a landmark event that signalled a fresh upsurge in Russian - Indian strategic ties. The primary purpose of Shri Rajanth Singh's maiden visit to Russia after taking over as India's Defense Minister on June 1, 2019, was to hold discussions with Defence Minister of Russian Federation General Sergei Shoigu covering all areas of military-to-military cooperation and defence industrial cooperation.


Indo-Russia Defence Industry Cooperation Conference

Following his arrival in Moscow, on November 6, 2019 Shri Rajnath Singh inaugurated, along with Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Mr Denis Manturov, «India-Russia Defence Industry Cooperation Conference». The Conference was attended by CEOs of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) from Russian Defence Industry and senior officials of Indian Ministry of Defence and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI). They discussed ways to promote defence industrial cooperation between India and Russia, technology transfer and investment in India in defence industry under the «Make in India» programme.

Addressing the conference, the Indian Defense Minister called upon the Russian Defence Industry to jointly manufacture defence platforms and equipment with India to massively boost exports from the two nations to third countries.

Shri Rajnath Singh urged Russian OEMs to partner with Indian entities to take advantage of recent economic reforms, improved ease of doing business and opening up the defence manufacturing sector for foreign participation.

Singh also pointed out the need for such industrial partnership to address «After Sales Support of Equipment of Soviet or Russian origin» already in Service with Indian Defence Forces. He was referring to an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) signed on September 4, 2019 during the 20th India-Russia Annual Summit at Vladivostok. The IGA is aimed at Mutual Cooperation in Joint Manufacturing of Spares, Components, Aggregates and other material related to Russian or Soviet Origin Arms and Defence Equipment.

Shri Rajnath Singh assured that India would provide orders for procurement of agreed quantities at mutually decided price for a period not less than five years. He expressed hope that the manufacturing under the agreement in India will lead to reduction in cost, reduction in timelines of the supplies and progressive indigenisation of spares.

«We will soon share with the Russian side the list of spares and items, proposed to be manufactured in India. I hope that Russia will identify the OEMs in the next few months who can partner in production of these spares. We are eager to see several joint industrial activities in India on the basis of the agreement in the near future,» added Raksha Mantri.

He also invited the Russian manufacturers to participate in the forthcoming DefExpo 2020, to be held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh from February 5-8, 2020.


19th India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military Technical Cooperation

On November 6, 2019, Shri Rajnath Singh and the Defence Minister of Russia General Sergei Shoigu on November 6, 2019 co-chaired the 19th India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) in Moscow.

Defense cooperation between India and Russia has been steered at the leadership level through Indo-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) since 2001.

In December 2018, India and Russia restructured their 18 year old Indo-Russian Intergovernmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) to reflect the increased cooperation between the armed forces of the two countries. The commission is now called India-Russia intergovernmental commission on military and military technical cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) and comprises two working groups on Military and Military Technical Cooperation.

Referring to the current military cooperation between the two nations, Gen. Sergei Shoigu said that the interaction of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the two nations is being strengthened, the exchange of military delegations is expanding, good results have been achieved in the field of military training.

«We jointly carry out major combat training events. The regular Indra exercises are a good example of the combat coordination between the armies of Russia and India,» he said.

General Shoigu added that close cooperation is also maintained through military exercises under multilateral formats such as Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) and ASEAN's SMOA plus counter terrorism framework.

He also noted «the proximity of the positions of Russia and India on key global and regional problems.»

Referring to the frequent interaction between the leaders of the two countries, General Shoigu said it was «vivid evidence of constructive bilateral relations developing in the spirit of a particularly privileged strategic partnership.»

During his discussions with General Shoigu, the Indian Defence Minister appreciated Russia’s steadfast support to India and highlighted the importance of the September 4, 2019 IGA on the manufacturing of spares, components and aggregates in India through joint ventures that would reduce cost, timelines of supply and result in progressive indigenisation.

General Shoigu briefed Shri Rajnath Singh on Russian operations in Syria. The Russian side reaffirmed its strong support to India in the field of counter-terrorism and stated that it accords priority to New Delhi’s security interests in the region. The Russian Defence Minister underlined Moscow’s commitment to extend all possible support in enhancing India’s defence capabilities, including cooperation in advance and cutting-edge technology.

According to the Indian press other subjects covered during discussions included Indian requests to Russia to

1. Speed up deliveries of the S-400 systems to equip 5 Indian Air Force squadrons. Currently the delivery is scheduled from October 2020 to April 2023.

2. Extend the lease of the SSN INS Chakra till the time Russia delivers the replacement Akula-1 boat which has already been contracted for. India acquired INS Chakra (formerly Nerpa K-152 Akula 1 improved class Project 971 SSN) in April 2012 on a 10 year lease.

The Russian side affirmed its readiness to operationalise the joint venture lndo-Russia Rifles Private Limited for the manufacture of Kalashnikov AK 203 rifles in India at the earliest

The IRIGC-M&MTC identified the main tasks for the near future as being

1. Constitution of specific teams to ensure proper maintenance support and supply of spares for crucial weapon platforms ranging from the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems to Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets and T-90S main-battle tanks, being acquired for the Indian armed forces.

2. Early conclusion of the bilateral reciprocal logistics support pact.

The logistics support pact would provide a framework to facilitate ships and aircraft of either nation to be refueled and serviced using partner nation resources.

Significantly, both sides agreed to intensify efforts to finalize cooperation program for 2021-2030 period, a clear indication that defense cooperation between the two nations would be further strengthened in the coming years.


Visit to UEC - Klimov, St. Petersburg

On November 7, 2019, the Indian Defense Minister placed a wreath at the Piskarevsky Memorial Cemetery honouring the soldiers and civilians who lost their lives during the Second World War. Later, he visited UEC-Klimov (which is incorporated in United Engine Corporation of State Corporation Rostec). Klimov is the largest developer and manufacturer of engines for Military and Civil aircraft in Russia.

During the visit the Indian Defense Minister was briefed on the product range of the enterprise and key stages of the production process and taken on a tour of the mechanical, assembly and test workshops.

Mr. Rajnath Singh was shown the TV7-117ST, TV7-117V, VK-2500, and RD-33MK engines, all of which are of interest to India. The TV7-117ST-01 engine powers the Ilyushin Il-114-300 regional liner a 52-64 seat analog of the ATR-42. India's state owned aircraft manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), is reportedly planning to make the IL-114-300 in India as a regional airliner for domestic airlines. HAL has tied up with Ilyushin, initially to provide maintenance support for the IL-114-300 in India and later to assemble the plane in the country.

The TV7-117V turboshaft engine is a helicopter powerplant version of the TV-117SM engine. Two TV7-117V turboshaft engines, each of 1753 kW power rating are fitted on Russia's newest transport helicopter Mi-38. The Mi-38 was unveiled at MAKS-2019 and made its international debut at the Dubai Airshow 2019. The transport helicopter is designed and built with focus on passenger safety and comfort, environmental friendliness, and low noise on the ground. Russia is pitching the Mi-38 to Pawan Hans Limited, India's state owned civil helicopter company, as a replacement for existing Mi-172.

The VK-2500 (2,700 hp) turboshaft engine is a modern high-hot variant of the Klimov’s TV3-117 (2,100 hp) which powers the Mi-8/Mi-17 helicopter family of helicopters. The Indian Air Force (IAF) currently has around 151 Mi-17V-5 helicopters powered by the TV3-117 engine, the last of which were delivered in January 2016. Russia is proposing that the IAF upgrade its Mi-17V-5 fleet to the Mi-171A2 standard powered by VK-2500PC engines. Besides more powerful and efficient engines, the Mi-171A2 features upgraded main rotor, gear systems and fuselage and advanced avionics. The total number of improvements exceed 80. The latest variant of the engine, VK-2500PS, offers extended service life and full authority digital engine control system for improved performance.

The RD-33MK engine, is a fourth generation engine derived from the RD-33 Series. If differs from the baseline model in having a new low-pressure compressor, an improved high-pressure compressor, an improved cooling turbine, an advanced smokeless combustor and up-to-date AVARK-42 FADEC system. The engine has higher thrust, higher reliability and a longer service life of up to 4,000 hours.

The RD-33MK was developed to power the MiG-29K/KUB and MiG-35. The RD-33MK variant which powers MiG-29K/KUB additionally features emergency takeoff rating and corrosion resistant coating on the gas air flow duct. The emergency takeoff rating makes it possible for the aircraft to takeoff from the aircraft carrier deck without use of catapult launcher. The Indian Navy procured 45 MiG-29K/KUB for carrier borne operations from INS Vikramaditya, its lone aircraft carrier. Russia has now pitched the RD-33MK powered MiG-35 against the IAF's requirement for 110 medium class fighters.

During the meeting with the top management of the enterprise Mr. Rajnath Singh put a high value on the scientific-design capacities of JSC «UEC-Klimov», the quality and the scale of the up-to-date production complex.

Shri Rajnath Singh's three-day visit to Russia clearly illustrates the vast scope and depth of Russia's strategic ties with India, as well as the continued upward trajectory and expansion of their partnership.

Source: Vijainder K Thakur

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