Indian Minister Hails Russian Friendship, But Slams Tardiness

India and Russia held their annual meeting to review the defence ties in Moscow on Tuesday (04 Oct 2011) and expressed ‘readiness to take all necessary measures to further expand the cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis’. In a Protocol signed after the eleventh meeting of the India-Russia Inter-governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation, co-chaired by the Defence Minister AK Antony and his Russian counterpart AE Serdyukov, the two sides noted with satisfaction that that during the period under review various diligent steps have been taken ‘to deepen interaction in the development of defence technologies, modernization of military equipment and joint manufacture of military-purpose products’.

'Such cooperation involves the strengthening of interactions between the Armed Forces, defense industry enterprises and research agencies of the two countries’, the Protocol noted.

Speaking at the meeting, Shri Antony said India-Russia defence relationship has grown both in content and scope over the years. He said India highly values the time tested, strong and multi- faceted relationship with Russia.

Referring to planned delivery of Aircraft Carrier INS Vikramaditya, Shri Antony said, "We are keenly awaiting the induction of the Aircraft Carrier into the Indian Navy. This project has attracted considerable public attention in India. We hope that the induction will take place, on schedule, by end 2012. We also hope that all activities on the MiG-29K are completed to achieve synchronization with the aircraft carrier."

Nevertheless, Antony drew the attention of the Russian side to the vexing issue of delayed export clearances for vital repair equipment for already contracted weapons systems. This has been affecting supplies of defence equipment and spares. The Russian side assured the Indian side that the matter was receiving attention at highest levels in the Russian Government and efforts would made to institutionalize measures to avoid such delays in future.

Antony also expressed India’s concern at the tardy progress made in the design and development of the Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MTA). The two sides agreed to accelerate the progress of this Project and they would be meeting later this month.

With regard to the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), being jointly designed and developed by India and Russia, both sides noted that the first stage of the preliminary design contract has been successfully completed and the second stage of the PD Contract is to be finalised before September, 2012. The training programme for the Indian engineers covering nearly 20 courses was completed in July 2011. Both sides agreed to continue discussions for finalization of the R&D contract as per the agreed time lines of the general contract signed in December, 2008.
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