New Delhi : India and Russia are likely to sign an agreement for co-development of the advanced fifth- generation fighter aircrafts (FGFA). The FGFA project had got delayed due to some critical issues between the two countries. It was even feared some days ago that the project would be scrapped. However, now that the project is running on the right track, it is indicative of positive signals that the defense and strategic ties between India and Russia are still strong.
So far, the US and China have developed ‘FGFA’ and these two countries have claimed that the tests performed on the advanced fifth generation aircrafts were successful. Russia is also conducting FGFA tests and is simultaneously preparing for investing in their production. In such circumstances, it was inevitable for India, having a neighbour like China, to develop the ‘FGFA’ and for this purpose India had signed an initial agreement with Russia in 2007. Accordingly, both the countries were going to co-develop FGFA. In 2010, India had expressed readiness to invest $300 Million for the initial designing of FGFA.
But over the time, the two countries developed serious differences about the project. India had made it amply clear that unless Russia is ready for the technology transfer of ‘FGFA’, it may not be interested in the project. In earlier similar defense deals with Russia, when India had not negotiated about technology transfer, it had to suffer huge losses. Due to this, India had faced great difficulties in the maintenance and repairs of the Russian-make fighter aircrafts. Therefore, Indian Defense Ministry was more cautious this time about not repeating the previous mistakes.
Against the background of these differences, the two countries are now set to co-develop ‘FGFA’. The reason behind India agreeing for the deal is not that Russia is now ready for technology transfer; but that India will be having equal rights as Russia in this project, informed a senior Indian official on the condition of anonymity. The official also disclosed that by getting same rights as Russia, India will be having equal say in the whole process, right from manufacturing to sale of the aircrafts. The official also expressed confidence that the project will be a great milestone in the field of defense manufacturing in India.
The officer further informed that the deal with Russia, regarding the ‘FGFA’ project will be signed in a few months.
Since the Indian Air Force is having a majority of Russian-make aircrafts, the cooperation of Russia in this area had become an absolute necessity for India. This deal is also a testimony to the fact that the Indo-Russian traditional strategic cooperation is still intact.