A $30 billion (Rs 1,35,000 crore) agreement for joint design and development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) will top the list of deals India and Russia will sign during President Dmitry Medvedev’s December 21-22 visit to this country. The two sides will finalise 14 pacts across sectors such as defence, nuclear cooperation, space and science and technology.
Medvedev is expected to visit Delhi and Mumbai with a sightseeing trip to Agra thrown in. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation will sign the FGFA contract. India plans to have a fleet of 250-300 co-produced FGFA — equivalent to the US Air Force’s F-22 ‘Raptor.’
The 30-tonne aircraft will be a swing-role fighter with stealth features to increase survivability in combat, supercruise ability, smart weapons, top-end mission computers and 360-degree situational awareness.
The two sides are also expected to ink a $4.3 billion (Rs 19,350 crore) deal for 42 Sukhoi-30 MKI fighters to be manufactured by HAL. Russia has increased the price significantly, considering India bought 40 such fighters for only $1.6 billion (Rs 7,200 crore) three years ago.
A joint venture between HAL and Russian partners UAC and Rosoboronexport to build 205 multi-role transport aircraft, at a development cost of around R 2,900 crore, is also imminent.
Medvedev’s visit will also see Russia making a pitch the MiG-35 fighter locked in competition with American and European rivals eyeing the $10.2 billion (R 45,900 crore) contract to supply 126 fighter planes to the Indian Air Force.
India will bring to the table its concerns about glitches it faced in earlier deals with Russia, namely mid-way price escalation of projects with long gestation periods, problems related to steady supply of spares and transfer of technology.
The most controversial of these was the deal to buy the aircraft carrier Gorshkov (now INS Vikramaditya) with 16 embarked MiG-29K fighters, which had to be delivered by 2008. But the carrier will now arrive by 2012-2013.
India had contracted the Gorshkov for $1.5-billion (R 6,750 crore) in January 2004, but Russians have revised the price to $2.33 billion (R 10,485 crore).
In Mumbai, Medvedev will stay at the Taj Mahal Hotel, one of the targets of 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, and pay homage to the victims.