Indian President Abdul Kalam has arrived in Russia and visited the Sukhoi aircraft corporation in the forerun to India's assembly of 140 Su-30-MKI fighters under a Russian license, Izvestia, a daily, reported.
Kalam and Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan discussed New Delhi's participation in developing the fifth generation fighter and the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) medium-range airliner. India is ready to channel $100 million into the RRJ program.
In 2004, Sukhoi won a state tender for developing the fighter, which is to phase out current Sukhoi and Mikoyan-Gurevich warplanes. Flight tests are set to begin in 2007.
Sukhoi has been cooperating with France since 2002. New Delhi previously received Su-30-MKI fighters with French-Israeli avionics. Russia invited India and France to participate, but Paris said it has no intention of financing the Russian project, and that it will develop the Raphael fighter instead. Russia faces similar problems with India. New Delhi has refused to sign an intellectual-property agreement with Moscow. This document entitles Russia to its share of proceeds during the sale of Russian-Indian hardware on third markets.
According to Kalam, an agreement could be drafted in a few weeks. A Russian-Indian expert group is now working on the document. But New Delhi still does not know which plane it really needs.
It is unclear whether Kalam, who helped develop Indian nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, has solved this problem. According to official reports, the concerned parties do not solve various problems at this level.
Sukhoi and the Irkut corporation delivered 32 Su-30-MKI fighters to India this year, helping New Delhi master their license production. This is the largest contract in the history of Russian-Indian cooperation at more than $3 billion.