Yesterday, the aviation show Aero India came to the end. The negotiations between Russian firms and Indian Armed Forces authorities, that happened during the exhibition, proved that Russia has good outlooks in this country. But they won’t be monopolists in the Indian sky for Delhi is interested in the technology acquisition.
The tender of providing the Indian Air Forces with 126 multifunctional fighters was the major topic discussed on the exhibition. The price is some $4.5 billion. The tender winner will provide the majority of the planes; the rest will be assembled on the Indian factories. Last December, the Ministry of Defense of India sent invitations to participate in the tender to the Russian MiG, with their fighters MiG-29M, French Dassault with Mirage 2000-V, Swedish Saab with GAF-30 Grippen and American Lockheed Martin with their F-16 Block 60. The tender will be announced in March. But, the Indian military officials’ statements reduced the number of the participants to two. Firstly, at the opening, the Minister of Defense Shri Pranab Mukherjee said, “ former American sanctions make India anxiously consider the purchase of the military and aviation technics from the USA.” It should be marked that Washington has just abolished the sanctions against India regarding the arm supply that were introduced in 1998, after the nuclear tests. Besides, the minister added that India is interested in the acquisition of the technologies, which is the USA are always against. So, Mukherjee let understand that Delhi is not intended to buy F-16.
Besides, a high rank representative of the Indian Air Forces told to the Kommersant’s reporter that Swedish Groppens don’t meet the requirements of the tender, besides they are using American engines. So they consider only Mirage-2000 and MiG- 29M2. “The Russian fighter takes priority of the French one.”- the resource said. “HAL Corporation will easily master the production at its plant in Nasik. But presently the plant is busy with the assembling Russian Su-30MKI fighters. Besides, India has always supported the principal of diversification in the military acquisitions. If we buy heavy fighters from Russia, then we will buy the medium fighters from another country. But MiG has the chances. A lot will depend on the prices and the conditions on which the technology is provided.”
According to the high rank authority from the Russian delegation, even if MiG doesn’t win in the tender, it will possibly get a lot of contracts from India in the nearest future. This will be a re-order of another 30 sea-launched fighters MiG- 29K for $1.5 billion, for the granted to India aircraft carrier “Admiral Gorshkov”. This number was provided by the option in the contract of January 2004, when India bought first 16 MiG-29Ks. By 2008 India is intended to make a contract on supply of 40-50 sea-launched fighters for some two billion dollars for its aircraft carrier ADF, which is to be started being build this spring. They can be MiG-29K too. Moreover, Indian Air Forces, MiG Corporation and Rosoboronexport will sign the agreement on modernization of the 50 planes MiG-29 that has been delivered before. According to the head of MiG Aleksey Fedorov, the contract price is some hundreds of millions of dollars.
During the exhibition, there were Russian-Indian negotiations on the co-production and co-financing of the fighter of the fifth generation. The news for Russia was not as good as that. The Director of the Aviation and Space Agency Maharat Verma told Kommersant that “they are waiting to the Ministry of Defense to confirm the financing of the development of the fifth generation fighters MCA in the volume of $1.2 billion. The ministry wants it to be 20 metric tons. We negotiated with the Russians on the co-productions, but Russia has to offer Sukhoi fighter that is 35-40 metric tons. It doesn’t suit us.”
But there also was good news for Sukhoi. Ashok K. Bawedja, head of HAL Corporation reported on his intention to invest $100 million into the program of developing a regional plane RRJ, which is ten percent of the project cost.
Bawedja also said that Russian Saturn won in the tender of engines supply: HGT-36 and HGT-39. Now Saturn improves AL-55I engine. According to experts, HAL will need more than a thousand of the AL-55I engines. Russia will get not less than a billion dollars for the production of the engines and granting the technology.