India to expand military-technical cooperation with Russia

Relations between India and Russia have reached a high level and have been mutually beneficial over the past ten years, he said on Monday, November 29, Itar-Tass reports.

Russia is a key country in India’s foreign policy. The two countries have fostered mutually advantageous cooperation in various sectors, including military-technical cooperation. India buys Russians arms and military-technical equipment and will continue to expand this cooperation in the future.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the two countries had reiterated their readiness to implement the agreements reached by the inter-governmental commissions on military, trade, economic, scientific, technical and cultural cooperation. “We are discussing the implementation of projects in various sectors, including the creation of a fifth generation fighter plane,” Lavrov said.

Russia and India may sign an agreement on the conceptual design of the fifth generation fighter plane in December of this year, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) President Alexei Fyodorov said earlier. “We hope to sign [it] in December,” Fyodorov said. Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) said that an agreement with India on the fifth generation fighter plane would be signed shortly.

“The reconciliation process is underway now,” FSMTC First Deputy Director Alexander Fomin said. “We hope to sign the agreement shortly,” he said, referring to the end of 2010. Fyodorov said it was unlikely to be signed outside Russia or India. In March 2010, Sukhoi head Mikhail Pogosyan said the “the signing of the agreement is a matter of several months. “We are in the process of negotiation right now. It will be completed shortly, and we will sign a contract on the sketch of the plane,” Pogosyan said back then, adding that such big projects took long time.

Fomin confirmed earlier that India and Russia would need at least 6-10 years to build a fifth generation fighter plane. “It takes some time to create a plane. The manufacture of such a sophisticated piece of equipment is a science-consuming process that requires big investments. At least six to ten years will pass before we build a sample of the fifth generation fighter plane and being its serial production,” Fomin said.

In the future, Russia and India plan to sell these planes not only on the national markets, but also in third countries. “We will export it in cooperation with Indian partners,” the official added. He said Russia and India were moving towards signing the first contract for the front-end engineering design of the new fighter plane. “We are close to signing a contract for the front-end engineering design,” he said, adding, “This is just the beginning.” At the same time, he noted that “we have passed a long and important stage of bureaucratic work: Our Indian partners and we are open to practical tasks under the project.”

India's Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation will work on the new fighter plane. According to India media reports, the two parties will invest 8-10 billion U.S. dollars in the project. Experts believe that the new plane will exceed Western analogues by the cost-efficiency criterion and will not only enhance the defence capabilities of the Russian and Indian navies, but will also take a worthy place on the world market.

In April, the new fighter plane was brought form Komsomolsk-on-Amur to Zhukovsky outside Moscow for further testing. The plane's engines were tested and it taxied up and down the runway at different speeds. Prior to the transfer of the plane from Komsomolsk-on-Amur to Zhukovsky the plane had undergone six flight tests to assess its stability and controllability. International experience shows that it takes about three to four years to test pilot samples before serial production begins.

The fifth generation fighter jet, which continues testing at the Gromov Flight Research Institute outside Moscow, is a unique plane that combines the functions of an attack airplane and a fighter. It is equipped with new avionics completed with the “electronic pilot” and a phased array antenna. This allows the pilot to concentrate almost entirely on his combat mission, including on the delivery of strikes in any weather. The use of composite materials and innovative technologies provide for low radar, optical and infrared detection of the plane.

The new fight jet went on the maiden flight on January 29, 2010 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The plane stayed in the air for 47 minutes and landed at the plant's aerodrome. World experience shows that it takes about 3-4 years to test new planes before their mass production can begin. Russia's new plane may as well fit into this schedule, especially since its maiden flight proved its reliability in different regimes. Fifth generation planes are currently used only by the United States: F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning. However the Russian plane, tentatively called T-50, surpasses the American Raptor.

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