$ 3-bn defence deals signed with Russia

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at SPAMbom4.vsnl.net.in
Tue Oct 10 08:08:05 MDT 2000


Wednesday
4 October 2000

$ 3-bn defence deals signed with Russia
By Dinesh Kumar
The Times of India News Service
NEW DELHI: Indo-Russian defence relations received a major thrust with the
two countries signing four major defence agreements worth about $ 3 billion
here on Wednesday. These include a contract for purchase and assembly of 310
T-90 tanks. The three other inter-governmental agreements relate to
acquisition of the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov, transfer of
technology and licensed production of 140 Sukhoi-30 MKI multi-role fighters,
and establishment of a bilateral Inter-Governmental Commission on military
technical cooperation.
Besides, the two sides have reached an agreement on lease to India of four
TU-22 Backfire bombers, a maritime reconnaissance and strike aircraft
capable of flying at three times the speed of sound and fitted with
air-to-ground missiles with a range of 300 km. India also plans to sign a
contract for five more Kamov-31 airborne early warning (AEW) helicopters for
the Navy.
Sources said the agreement on leasing the TU-22s is a major break-through as
the Russians had earlier been raising objections to its use in war or
conflict in the face of restrictions posed by the Missile Technology Control
Regime (MTCR).
The weapon systems, both contracted for and under active consideration, will
augment the strike capabilities of the Indian Army, Navy and the Air Force
constrained by defence budgetary squeezes dating back to the V.P. Singh era.
Of considerable significance is the establishment of the Commission on
Military Technical Cooperation which will be chaired by Union defence
minister George Fernandes and Russia's deputy Prime Minister Klebanov. It
will exercise coordination and control of bilateral military-technical
cooperation, facilitate its development, resolve problems emerging in the
course of implementation of military-technical cooperation, provide greater
impetus to it and assist in accelerated decision-making.
The $ 705 million T-90 deal includes outright purchase of 124 tanks while
the remainder 186 will be partly assembled and partly produced under license
in India. This contract also includes transfer of technology, overhauling
and probable joint manufacturing facilities and marketing facilities.
The acquisition of 310 T-90s, which add up to five armoured regiments, has
been necessitated due to delays in the indigenously developed Arjun main
battle tank and will seek to partially replace the aging Vijayanta and T-55
tanks.
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