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Ramping up defence ties, India and Russia today announced deals worth about Rs 43,000 crores for purchase of state-of-art Russian air defence systems, collaboration in making four stealth frigates and setting up facility for joint production of Kamov helicopters.
The decisions were taken during talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin that covered a wide range of areas including defence.
Amid India's growing defence ties with the US and the Europe, Modi asserted that Russia will remain India's major defence and strategic partner.
The most critical deal signed today was the Inter Governmental Agreement for the purchase of S-400 long-range air defence missile system which has the capability to destroy incoming hostile aircraft, including stealth, besides missiles and drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
India is looking at buying at least 5 such systems, which will give the country a quantum jump in its capability against incoming missiles, including ballistic, besides drone or aircraft from both Pakistan and China.
India plans to deploy three such systems along the border with Pakistan and two along the border with China.
Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Rostech State Corporation, Russia umbrella organisation encompassing over 700 high-tech companies including all military firms, said that the contract negotiations for the air defence systems will start now and it is hoped that it will be formalised by mid next year.
Speaking to a select group of journalists, Chemezov said that if all goes well the system will start getting delivered to India in 2020.
"S-400 is a state of art system and most modern and advanced air system which is vital for a country that wants to secure itself," he said.
Sources said that each system, having eight launchers, a control centre, radar and 16 missiles as reloads, would cost over USD one billion each.
It is capable of firing three types of missiles, creating a layered defence, and simultaneously engaging 36 targets. It can hit targets at a speed of 17,000 km an hour. This is faster than any aircraft in the world.
India will be the second customer of the prized missile system after China which had struck a USD 3 billion contract last year.
Another important deal is for four Admiral Grigorovich-
class (Project 11356) guided-missile stealth frigates which is in furtherance to the six Talwar-class frigates that Russia built for the Indian Navy between 2003 and 2013.
Under this deal, valued at about half a billion American dollar, two vessels will come from Russian and while the other two will be built in India with Russian collaboration.
India and Russia also signed a USD one billion worth agreement for creation of the joint venture to jointly produce Kamov 226T helicopters that will replace the country's aging Cheetah and Chetak choppers.
While 40 of these choppers will be brought to India off the shelf, another 20 will be brought down as knocked down versions. Rest of the helicopters will be made in India.
The joint venture will become a pilot project for the Russian-Indian part of the Make in India programme.
"The joint venture for local production of Ka-226T is a profoundly new and substantial step in the development of cooperation between India and Russia. The fleet of Russian-made helicopters in India is over 400 units.
"But this is the first of such large-scale complex agreements for delivery and production of new helicopters in the amount of 200 units, which is fully in line with the Make in India initiative," Chemezov said.
He added that in addition, over the next five years there will be facilities set up for maintenance and servicing of the produced helicopters.
"Therefore the agreement presents not just production but a full-lifecycle contract," he said.
The combined share of the Russian participants in the joint venture will amount to 49.5 per cent, the share of the Indian side - 50.5 per cent.
The joint venture is set to create also facilities for the overhaul within 7 years after deliveries of the first batch of helicopters.
The Kamov helicopters are capable of operating at heights of 20,000 feet and once inducted will take over the role of maintaining the forward posts on the Siachen glacier.
The three deals are worth USD 6.5 billion or Rs 43,000 crore.