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Russia, India likely to ink deal on 48 Mi-17 choppers supply this year: official

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Mi-17 military transport helicopter. Photo: Indian Air Force

ZHUKOVSKY, RUSSIA (PTI): Russia and India are holding negotiations for the supply of 48 Russian Mi-17 military transport helicopters, with Moscow hoping to seal the deal by the end of this year, a top Russian official has said.

Russian arms supplier Rosoboronexport's CEO Alexander Mikheev said India has more than 300 helicopters belonging to the Mi-8 and Mi-17 family, which are deployed in troop and arms transport, fire support, convoy escort, patrol, and search-and-rescue (SAR) missions. He said India knows their specifications well.

Mikheev said Russia and India are holding talks with a view to sign a contract for 48 (Mi-17V-5) helicopters and the techno-commercial negotiations are set to commence in August.

"We hope that we will reach an agreement before the end of this year," he told a select group of journalists here on the sidelines of Russia's premier air show MAKS 2017.

Last year, Russia had handed over to India the final batch of three Mi-17V-5 military transport helicopters under a previously signed contract with Rosoboronexport, a company of the Rostec State Corporation, that entailed a total of 151 units of the Mi-17V-5 helicopter, produced by the Kazan Helicopter Plant.

Designed to transport cargo inside the cabin and on an external sling, the Mi-17V-5 is considered to be one of the world's most advanced military transport helicopters.

Mi-17V-5, supplied to India, ranks among the most technically advanced helicopters of the Mi-8/17 type, incorporating the best engineering solutions of previous generations.

In 2008, Rosoboronexport signed a contract for the delivery of 80 Mi-17V-5 to India, which was completed in 2011 -2013. In 2012-2013, three additional contracts were signed to supply a total of 71 Mi-17V-5 helicopters to meet the needs of the Indian Air Force.

Talking about the S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems, Mikheev said Russia and India are holding "technical consultations" for their supply and Moscow aims to sign a contract "as soon as possible".

India and Russia have been in talks for over a year for the purchase of at least five systems of S-400 that could be a game changer for India's anti-aircraft defence capability.

India had announced on October 15 last year a deal on the Triumf air defence systems from Russia, worth over USD five billion.

"As of today, we are carrying out technical consultations with India. We have already shown our equipment - both in the field, testing, range-practice conditions and in conditions of production plant and design bureaus," Mikheev said.

"Rosoboronexport is performing all the works aimed at signing of the contract as soon as possible, based on the feedback from India," he said.

Talking about other projects that are under discussion between Russia and India, Mikheev said, "We are discussing a programme for modernisation of SU-30 with our Indian partners. The aircraft park is quite large."

"During a period of 15 years, we have fulfilled all our obligations to the Indian party, the HAL Corporation -- supplied quite a large aircraft park, over 200, under the license agreement -- and we are offering new developments of our design bureaus.

"Moreover, the Indian Air Force has some requirements for improvement of performance and operational characteristics, mainly with regard to avionics, electronic warfare systems, as well as updates of weapon systems by both Indian and Russian companies," he said.

Mikheev said Russia was already considering the capabilities of the Indian industry within the framework of the "Make in India" programme and noted that under it a well- known project was the joint venture for Kamov 226T helicopters.

Asked about the first Russian-Indian military-industrial conference in March where reports said some questions concerning the problem with spare parts was raised by India, Mikheev said the industrial conference was jointly held by Russia's Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Valentinovich Manturov and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley during which both sides reached an agreement on the issue.

"I think that it's actually a big plus in our relations. We have agreed that the programme of after-sales services will be participated by Russian dedicated holding companies, in order to ensure the operation of previously supplied equipment throughout its life-cycle. It's 20, 30, 40 years -- whether it be a submarine, a helicopter, a tank, etc.," Mikheev said.

"We have specified six companies that will carry out direct cooperation with both operators of Russian equipment and Indian companies that will be charged with operating this equipment and manufacturing its spare parts," he said.

Mikheev named the six companies that will carry out direct cooperation as -- the United Shipbuilding Corporation, the United Aircraft Corporation, Russian Helicopters, the United Engine Corporation, Almaz-Antey and Tactical Missile Corporation.

Mikheev also highlighted Rosoboronexport's growing business, saying in 2016 it executed the plan of supplies for USD 13.08 billion.

"This year, the plan of supplies under Rosoboronexport contracts is USD 12.9 billion. About 50 per cent are the equipment for air forces. And about 50 per cent fall on the Middle East and North Africa, as well as India and China are major customers," he said.

Rosoboronexport has cooperation with more than 100 countries and its contractual obligations are being fulfilled by 92 countries, he noted.

Rosoboronexport is the only state-owned arms trade company in the Russian federation authorised to export the full range of military and dual purpose products, technologies and services.

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