Antony to undertake three-day visit of Russia

     Defence Minister AK Antony will undertake a three-day visit to Moscow from October 13 to attend the Ninth meeting of the India-Russia Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC). The IRIGC-MTC meets annually, alternately in India and Russia, at the level of the Defence Ministers of the two countries to review and discuss matters relating to the bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries. The meeting will be held on October 14 and 15, and will be chaired by Antony from the Indian side and by Defence Minister A E Serdyukov from the Russian side. The extension of the existing India-Russia Long Term Inter-Governmental Agreement on the programme for Military Technical Cooperation for a further 10 years, from 2011 to 2020, will be the main focus of discussions during the meeting of the commission. India and Russia had concluded an agreement in December 1988 which envisaged a programme for defence cooperation between the two countries up to the year 2010. The extension of this programme beyond 2010 has been under consideration and this matter had also been discussed by the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh during his meeting with President Putin in Moscow in 2007. Both sides have, since, been working towards finalizing the programme for defence cooperation beyond 2011. The anticipated discussions at the commission level would pave the way for conclusion of the Agreement during Dr Singh's forthcoming visit to Russia in December 2009 for the Summit meeting between him and President Medvedev. In addition to the consideration of new areas for potential defence cooperation between the two countries, both sides will also be focussing on ways to step up progress in important on-going projects which are expected to reach significant stages of activity in the coming years. The indigenous production of the Russian origin T-90 S tanks at the Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, under license from the Russian side will be one of the major on-going projects, in which the Russian side is providing technical and product support for the indigenous production of tanks. The modernisation of the SU 30 MK1 aircraft is also expected to come up for discussion in the Commission's meeting. The aircraft, contracted in 1996, are due for overhaul shortly and the Russia side have offered an upgrade of the aircraft with incorporation of the latest technologies during the major overhaul. The continuation of the India Russia Joint Venture BrahMos is also likely to be discussed, in the context of on-going discussion for the development of the next generation hypersonic Cruise Missiles - BrahMos-2 and the on-going proposal to coordinate the BrahMos with the SU 30 MK1. Among the major new projects which will be high in priorities of the Indian agenda for bilateral defence cooperation between the two countries, will be projects for joint design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and of the Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MTA). The co-development and co-production of the FGFA with Sukhoi Design Bureau Russia has been progressing, with several rounds of discussion already completed to finalize the technical requirements. During discussions in the meeting of the Commission, Shri Antony would highlight New Delhi's interest in ensuring that the development phase of the FGFA is completed by 2016, as originally anticipated and that induction of the aircraft into the IAF can start by 2017. Both sides will also review the progress on the MTA, on which the Inter-Governmental Agreement had been signed during the visit of Dr Manmohan Singh's to Moscow in November 2007. Both sides have been discussing the formation of the Joint Venture company which would execute the project involving design, development and production of the Medium Transport Aircraft in the 15-20 tonne class to meet the requirements of the Russian and Indian Armed Forces. Both sides are likely to conclude the Agreement to form the JVC shortly. The Defence Minister's delegation to the IRIGC-MTC will include Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, Secretary (Defence Production) R K Singh, DG (Acquisition) S K Sharma, senior officials of DRDO, Ministry and the Armed Forces. A Protocol incorporating the various aspects of current and future Indo-Russian bilateral defence cooperation will be signed at the conclusion of the meeting.

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