After several months of hectic negotiations on technical details, India and Russia are ready with a detailed work-share agreement for joint production of a fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA). Russia will now share critical new generation aircraft technologies as part of a deal that would include production of over 100 fighters in India.
The two nations are also expected to incorporate a new company by October for the production of Kamov Ka 226 light choppers, which would involve significant private sector participation. Both projects have been accelerated ahead of Indo-Russian summit talks in Goa next month that will be attended by President Vladimir Putin.
Officials who have been briefed on ongoing talks told ET that the FGFA programme in particular will yield rich dividends to India due to the quantum of technology on offer. "From a preliminary documents that was barely two dozen pages, we have agreed on a 650 page detailed plan that specifies exactly what all will be shared," the official said. Unlike in the past when a broad agreement would be signed on fighter deals like the Su 30 MKI contract, this time around Indian negotiators have gone deep into details of the joint production plan.
The project got a boost last year from Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar after being on the brink of collapse. The signing of the work share agreement is expected shortly, with India committing to invest $4 billion over the coming years to develop a tailor-made version of the fighter. One of the major concerns of the Indian side was the development of a new jet engine for the fighter and its weapons package.
India has already spent $300 million in a preliminary design contract for the project with Russia that was completed in June 2013. In the initial stage, HAL and Russian Helicopters will sign up for the joint company but the Indian side is clear that a private sector partner will be brought in at a later stage to assist the project. Pune-based Kalyani Strategic Systems is tipped as a frontrunner for this partnership to manufacture helicopter engines for the KA 226. On the chopper contract, officials said that work is being accelerated to ensure that a new joint company is incorporated by the time the summit level talks begin.