By: Suman Chowdhury
The strategic relationship between India and Russia has served not only in the long term national interests of India and Russia but has also effectively contributed in the defence arena including scientific research & developmental programmes.
The relationship is guided by the Programme for Military Technical Cooperation signed between the two countries which is valid, at present till 2020. It highlights the interest of the two governments to further develop and strengthen the military and technical cooperation in the sphere of research and development, production and after sales support of armament systems and various military equipment. In 2012, both the countries marked the 15th anniversary of military cooperation.
India and Russia's defence relation can be best described as a crucial element of the strategic partnership and thus in 2000, the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) was set-up to oversee the complete range of issues of military technical cooperation. The two Defence Ministers meet annually, alternately in Russia and India, to discuss and review the status of ongoing projects and other issues of military technical cooperation.
Defence industries of both the countries gain lucratively from this special friendship through dedicated cooperation in design & development of product including sharing of technical knowhow and vast experiences for future projects.
The India-Russia Joint Venture BRAHMOS missile is the best example of technological co-operation in this regard. The BRAHMOS missile system has been developed as a joint venture between India and Russia in the shortest possible time, leapfrogging all other countries in the world. It is going to remain a world class system in the coming years. BRAHMOS JV has redefined the business of selling military products from a purely buyer-seller relationship to joint research, design, development, production and marketing of state of the art military platforms.
Both the Governments have recently agreed to continue their unwavering partnership in the BRAHMOS missile programme by extending the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for an indefinite period.
The two countries are also engaged in joint design and development of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MTA).
The arrival and induction of the INS Vikramaditya by the Indian Navy, a modernised Russian aircraft carrier, was a significant milestone in Russian-Indian military ties.
Also, India is the only country to which Russia has agreed to give access to Glonass military-grade signals, which will enable the Indian military to greatly improve the accuracy of its land-, sea-, air and space-launched weapon systems.
Bilateral projects which are currently underway include indigenous production of T-90 tanks and Su-30-MKI aircraft, supply of MiG-29-K aircraft and Kamov-31 and Mi-17 helicopters, upgrade of MiG-29 aircraft and supply of Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher Smerch.
With India currently stressing on developing an indigenous industry and working on joint projects with partners, India and Russia trusted partnership in the high-tech weapons field is growing manifold together with more diversified defence interactions.
Recently, during a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin, both the leaders agreed on the necessity to promote cooperation in politics, economy, international affairs, as well as military-technical cooperation. Putin and Modi met on the sidelines of the 6th BRICS summit in July 2014.
India and Russia have been holding joint war games for several years now with the involvement of all the three services of their armed forces. Joint Army and Navy exercises between the two armed forces are held under the title INDRA. Recently, three Indian Navy ships-INS Shivalik, INS Ranvijay and INS Shakti took part in the joint Indo-Russian Naval Exercise Indra 2014, held in Russian far eastern city of Vladivostok. Russian Navy was represented by guided-missile cruiser Varyag, big anti-submarine ship Admiral Vinogradov and big amphibious assault ship Peresvet. Eight warships and vessels, deck helicopters and warplanes of maritime aviation participated in the naval drills.
It is noteworthy that Russia is the only country which conducts full-fledged cooperation in high military technology with the transfer of knowhow to its strategic partner India that is mostly evident by the activities in the Joint Venture BrahMos. Both India and Russia have also vowed to enhance cooperation in the key areas of rocket, missile and naval technologies.
Finally, it is apt to conclude that the creative approach and fruitful activities of Russian and Indian specialists have produced impressive success and new scientific and technical results. And, hence, the co-operation in the field of defence constitutes as one of the most important features of Indo-Russian bilateral ties.
By: Suman Chowdhury
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