India and Russia are likely to sign a deal to finalise the detailed design for the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) in the second half of the year.
“Almost all the ground work has been completed to finalise the deal for design of the jet as well as some other critical issues,” an official was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India Sunday.
"The contract for the detailed design would be signed soon and that will be a major milestone. It should be signed in the second half of the year," a top official involved in the negotiations with Russia on the project said.
“Both the countries are co-developers and India will have equal rights over the technology.” the official, who requested anonymity, said.
However, in the negotiations process for the project, India had insisted access to all the required codes and critical technology so that it can upgrade the aircraft as per its requirements.
During February 2016, the discussion on the project between India and Russia has been revived following clearance from the defense minister Manohar Parrikar. In 2007, India and Russia had signed an inter-governmental pact for the FGFA project.
In December 2010, India had agreed to pay US $295 million towards the preliminary design of the fighter, known in India as the 'Perspective Multi-role Fighter' (PMF). However, negotiations faced various hurdles in the subsequent years.
The work on various co-development projects have been expedited following the government's renewed focus on modernisation of the armed forces, the official added.
In March, India and Russia had signed two key agreements for long-term maintenance and technical support for Russian- made Su-30MKI fighter jets of the Indian Air Force.
Currently, the IAF operates about 230 Su-30MKI fighter jets and, as per the agreements, Russian defence majors United Aircraft Corporation and the United Engine Corporation will render technical support and provide maintenance services and spares for the fleet for a period of five years.