India, Russia ink 5th Gen aircraft deal

Updated on Oct 19, 2007 01:28 AM IST

India, Russia sign an agreement for the joint development and production of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft in Moscow on Thursday, reports Jatin Gandhi.

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HT Image
Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

India and Russia signed an agreement for the joint development and production of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) in Moscow on Thursday.

Defence Minister AK Antony, present during the signing ceremony, with his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov, described it as a "landmark agreement", a ministry release from Moscow said.

The agreement was signed by the secretary, Defence Production, KP Singh and deputy director of the Federal Service for Foreign Military Cooperation, Vyacheslav Dzirkaln at the culmination of the seventh meeting of the India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission for Military and Technical Cooperation.

Antony and Serdyukov also signed a protocol which envisages a 'new strategic relationship' based on greater interaction at various operational levels, the statement said.

Antony told reporters the two countries have agreed to strengthen and expand relations in all areas, especially for joint exercises and greater cooperation in research and development, sources said.

With plans for a large fleet of the 4.5 generation of fighter aircraft, the Sukhoi Su-30 MKI and the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), firmly in place, the Indian Air Force (IAF) can now hope to enhance its capabilities through the fifth generation fighters to be 'developed and produced' with the Russians.

Though the government has not put a timeline to the plan inked with Russia on Thursday, sources said the FGFA could put our air combat prowess on par with the more advanced nations. The agreement also puts the two countries in more complementary roles concerning defence cooperation. Of late, an increase in India's dealings with the US had been a cause for concern in Moscow.

"It is a part of the natural evolutionary process. This was on the cards for some time," Air Marshal Vinod Bhatia (retd) said. "The Russians are quite advanced in the development process. The development of the aircraft should take five to six years," he added.

The FGFA combines versatility with new developments such as thrust vectoring, supercruising capability, stealth technology and advanced radar and sensors. The integrated avionics are designed to reduce the pilot's workload while vastly improving situational awareness.

So far, only the American F-22 Raptor, put into production in 2004, is operational.

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