Monday, December 13, 2010

India, Russia to sign $30-bn fighter deal

SOURCE : The Indian Express Limited India and Russia are set to sign their biggest-ever defence deal with the government’s highest decision-making body clearing a mega proposal for joint development and production of fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA).
The total projected value of the deal is pegged at $30 billion ($3,000 crore), with the Indian Air Force (IAF) looking at placing orders for 250-300 of the advanced fighters.
With the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) giving a go-ahead, the formal contract for the joint development and production of the fighters will be signed towards the end of this month during President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit to New Delhi.
The new fighter, which has been named as the Sukhoi T 50 PAK FA, undertook its first flight in January this year and the IAF hopes to start the induction of a specialised two-seater variant by 2017.
Sources said while the total value of the contract was expected to be over $30 billion, the Indian government would initially sanction an amount of $10 billion for developmental and production costs. More funds will be released subsequently.
The new stealth fighters will be the only competition to the F 35 fighter, currently under development, and the US F 22 Raptor, which is the only fifth-generation fighter in service.
In October this year, India and Russia resolved all outstanding issues regarding the joint development project with Defence Minister AK Antony announcing that the Air Force will receive 250-300 of the advanced fighters.
All matters were resolved during the 10th meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) held in the capital.
While it was earlier said that up to 250 fighters would be procured, the Defence Minister said that as many as 300 next generation jets were to be ordered for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Air Chief had earlier said that deliveries were expected to start by 2017.
The second prototype of the T 50 PAK FA is expected to take off in the coming few weeks, raising hopes that the project would be completed on time.
While Sukhoi, which is well-versed with the Indian system, will be the design lead from Russia, the Indian side of the project will be handled by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

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