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Defence Minister to travel to Russia next month

MOSCOW (PTI): Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will arrive in Moscow next month to co-chair a joint military commission meeting during which the delayed 5th generation fighter aircraft development programme along with multi-role transport aircraft are likely to be discussed.

In his meeting with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Parrikar would co-chair the meeting of Inter Governmental Commission on Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) on November 2.

Though this meeting had been planned for earlier this month, it could not take place because of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to New Delhi. Parrikar is likely to leave for Russia on October 30.

Besides touching upon the development of the 5th generation fighter aircraft, other issues likely to be discussed include the new-generation Russian S-400 air defence missile systems, capable of destroying incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400-km.

Parrikar along with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, will also review the progress of Moscow's plan to manufacture almost 200 Kamov 226T helicopters in India that will give a big boost to the Government's flagship programme of "Make in India".

The question of a possible lease of a second nuclear submarine from Russia could also come up.

The meeting comes amid growing defence ties between Russia and Pakistan. Russia is in talks with Pakistan for the sale of four Mi-35 attack helicopters.

India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.

Sources said spare part issues pertaining to the licensed production in India of Su-30MKI fighter aircraft will be raised by New Delhi. Both countries are currently also working on a "Super 30" version of the fighter aircraft.

Shoigu visited New Delhi for the last meeting (14th session) of the Commission on January 21 to review the ongoing cooperation and future opportunities for progressing bilateral defence cooperation.

Last year, the two governments signed an agreement to train Indian Armed Forces personnel in Russia.

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