India, Russia Revive a Time-Tested Partnership

India, Russia Revive a Time-Tested Partnership

Last week India and Russia finalized plans to deliver 250 to 300 jointly developed fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and 45 multirole transport aircraft (MTA) to India over the next decade. The Indian defense minister underlined that these would be the flagship Indo-Russian joint development projects, building on the success of the Brahmos cruise missile program as a model.

Some wrinkles remain in the two countries' defense partnership. India raised the issue of inordinate delays in the delivery of Russian defense systems, which result in considerable cost escalation. For instance, India will end up paying Russia $2.34 billion for the delivery of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, now finalized for 2012 or 2013, compared to the original $974 million agreed to in 2004. India was also supposed to receive an Akula II nuclear-powered submarine last year, but its delivery was postponed to March 2011.

Nevertheless, both sides are intent on maintaining strong ties. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be in India in December to sign the FGFA joint development deal. Russia's chief of defense forces is also scheduled to visit New Delhi next month, followed by the Russian navy chief in January 2011. The two armies will hold a joint counterterrorism exercise in India later this month, to be followed by another in Russia next year.

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