Russia, India to expand defense cooperation in 2017 - experts

India and China are the main arms markets for Russia.

India and China are the main arms markets for Russia.

Major defense deals signed between Moscow and New Delhi in 2016 are on track, according to Moscow-based analysts.

Russia and India are likely to expand defense cooperation in 2017, leading experts told RBTH.

“We have huge cooperation and many joint projects,” Russian International Affairs Council expert Vasiliy Kashin told RBTH. He expects “yet another deal with India” in the near future.

Deputy Director of the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies Konstantin Makienko agrees: “If at least one of those deals falls through, there will be others,” he told RBTH.

Makienko added that Indian officials unblocked the funding for T-90 tanks, and that Hindustan Aeronautics Limited signed a contract with Irkut Corporation for the in-depth overhaul of India’s Su-30 MKI fleet.

Major defense deals signed on the sidelines of the Indo-Russian Summit in Goa in October 2016 are on track, experts interviewed by RBTH added.

In October 2016, India agreed to buy 48 Mi-17V5 helicopters and launch co-production of 200 Ka-226T helicopters and four Project 11356 frigates.

On the sidelines of Langkawi Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) Exhibition in Malaysia on March 22, Viktor Kladov, Head of Rostec’s Department of International Cooperation told reporters the backlog of orders amounts to “billions of dollars,” according to Interfax. 

Makienko believes that the only setback in Indo-Russian deals could be in the “choosing of Indian dockyards” for the co-production of two Project 11356 frigates. Media reports from India suggest that the frigates could be made at the Goa Shipyards.

‘Make in India’

Makienko said the after the start of the implementation of ‘Make in India’ program, there is a lot of competition for Indian defense contracts from both state-run and private enterprises.

When many giant private groups companies such as Mahindra, Tata or Reliance tried to enter the Indian defense industry, it turned out that not all of them were capable of doing so, Makienko added.

The expert said the only clear danger to Indo-Russian defense deals comes from “internal Indian disputes.”

In 2012-16 Russia was the source of 68 percent of India’s arms imports, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The U.S. was in second place.

According to Rostec’s Kladov, India and China are the main arms markets for Russia, but “Southeast Asia is also a growing market for Russian military equipment.” He expects more contracts with ASEAN countries to be signed in 2017, according to 

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