Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed satisfaction Nov. 18 with his country’s already sizeable defense procurement cooperation with Russia and outlined hopes of their jointly building a new fighter jet.
Mukherjee reiterated India’s hopes of developing a new fighter jet with Moscow, following an agreement signed this week to jointly build a new transport plane.
“Our armed forces and industrial enterprises in this sphere would like to take part in all stages of the production of a fifth generation fighter jet,” he told the Vremya Novostei newspaper during an interview as he visited Moscow this week. He ruled a purely financial role for New Delhi in such an endeavor, however..
“Russia is India’s biggest supplier of defense products and I don’t foresee any change to that in the next few years,” the newspaper quoted Mukherjee as saying.
“Our defense cooperation will widen and deepen. … Currently contracts worth around $9 billion dollars are being fulfilled,” Mukherjee said.
Russia’s defense industry has built on Soviet-era ties with India and now supplies around 70 percent of India’s arms imports. New Delhi is the second-biggest buyer of Russian military hardware after China.
As India develops its own defense industry, the two countries are increasingly developing joint projects, with some production already carried out in India under license, including building of Su-30 MKI fighter jets and T-90 tanks, Mukherjee said.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is himself due in Moscow next month, when he will sign agreements that include one aimed at protecting intellectual property rights.
The two countries held joint military exercises in the Indian state of Rajasthan last month.
Recent Indian purchases include the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, while the two countries are jointly building BrahMos anti-ship missiles.