Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi, starting tomorrow, will be particularly challenging as he tries to regain lost ground among India’s defence supplier community.
Russia was bumped to second place by the US as India’s largest weapons supplier earlier this year after losing a number of helicopter and transport aircraft contracts.
However, Putin has on his side the Sukhoi-30MKI and the MiG-29 fighters which form the backbone of Indo-Russian defense co-operation. The aircraft are the main fighter planes which the Indian Air Force relies on to defend its skies within the vast land and sea borders which India commands.
“The program of development and production of Su-30MKI fighter has got a special place in Indo-Russian military-technical cooperation,” Sergei Korotkov, CEO of MiG Corporation said in an e-mail interview. “It has resulted not only in delivery to the Indian Air Force of state-of-the-art multi-role fighters, but also in setting-up of efficient Indo-Russian mode of collaboration in development of modern defense systems.”
From its initial stage, the Su-30MKI Program was based on a necessity of international cooperation, where each country focuses on its competitive advantages, Korotkov added.
The Indian military have enriched the Su-30MKI Program with the clear concept of a modern fighter, based on the complex analysis of recent regional military conflicts. The HAL Corporation and the Indian IT industries have contributed to the Program’s implementation in the major way, he said.
During implementation of the Su-30MKI license production contract, specialist and experts of HAL and other Indian companies have mastered new competences and technologies, handed over by Russia. In the MKI Program’s implementation, major aviation companies both from Russia and India have been actively involved, he explained further.
In the Su-30MKI license production in India over 150 Indian industries are actively involved . The Program’s implementation has enabled HAL to master niche technologies of aircraft building and absorb new technologies in manufacturing areas such as machining, forming, welding, assembly, and testing and aircraft system checks.
Hi-tech products of Indian origin such as like on-board computers are not only installed on the Su-30MKIs, but also supplied as integral parts of Su-30 family of aircraft to Air Forces of Russia, Algeria and Malaysia.
Besides, HAL has become the only enterprise in the world, which with Russia’s assistance has mastered the Su-30 MKI’s full overhaul which involves complete stripping of the aircraft and putting it back against after inspecting every element.
“The practice of military-technical cooperation between India and Russia had never become a victim of any politically –driven embargo or restriction”, Korotkov said perhaps hinting at the recent withholding of the Mistral warship delivery to Russia by France and earlier embargo on India imposed by the US after the Pokhran nuclear tests.
Indian companies have been making the main bulk of the MiG-29 modernization program for a long time now. And the MiG Corporation actively develops off-set programs within frameworks of on-going contracts.
Joint efforts of Russian and Indian specialists under the MiG-29K and the twin seater KUB ship-born fighter program have become a new feature of cooperation. Here Indian participants of the program have become a full-scale co-developers and co-producers.
MiG’s specialists had participated in training of pilots of the Indian Naval aviation, who were to master flying techniques from the board of the aircraft carrier. Korotkov, says, “We were really impressed by the professionalism of Indian pilots, who, with an assistance of the MiG’s test pilots, have mastered MiG-29K/KUB on the INS "Vikramaditya" in a fast manner”.
After its success in the MiG-29K Program, MiG Corp. has succeeded in development of the MiG-29M/M2 and MiG-35 Programs.
In the close collaboration with the IAF and HAL, over the last few years MiG Corp. has achieved a real breakthrough in the system of the MiG-family a/c’s operational maintenance. Precisely for this purpose, it is planned to open during 2015 a MiG Service Center.
Speaking on perspectives of further cooperation with India, the MiG’s CEO says: “India has been and remains the most privileged foreign partner of MiG Corp. and we are really keen to expand our collaboration in future”.