Jetting Off To India

PH2010012900988.jpgWill Putin’s visit to the world’s largest democracy ‘resuscitate the flagging relationship’ Russia currently shares with it, as this commentator in the Financial Times puts it?  For a considerable period Russia has held the position of number one arms supplier to India, with enthusiastic shipments of Sukhoi jets and submarines dispatched to the Indian subcontinent, oiling the cogs of Moscow-Mumbai cooperation.  This Financial Times piece looks at the creeping threat of competition from the US and sees Putin’s overtures tap into historical ties rooted in the Soviet era.  Another editorial points out though that perhaps Russia has its own secret weapon to stave off competition from elsewhere:

Mr Putin is making an aggressive pitch that it will be his country that brings India’s air-strike capabilities into the 21st century. During talks today with Manmohan Singh, his Indian counterpart, he will play an ace card: technology that others, such as the US, are reluctant to give India.

He will extend Moscow’s hand of co-operation in building a fifth-generation fighter jet – the T50 PAK FA.

The aircraft, the equivalent of the US’s F-35 stealth fighter, is expected to join the Russian air force in five years’ time. Indian participation would put Asia’s third largest economy at the forefront of military aircraft design and uphold a long-standing Russian promise to share the most advanced technology.

Bangalore-based Hindu stan Aeronautics, which already assembles Mig, Sukoi and Hawk jets, is seeking at least a 25 per cent share in the production of a two-seat version of the aircraft. The fighter, estimated to cost more than $85m apiece, would also be equipped with BrahMos cruise missiles, which have been developed and tested jointly by the two countries.

Mr Putin and Mr Singh are also expected to sign a deal for the supply of Mig29-K maritime fighters for India’s navy. These are meant for the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft-carrier shortly to be acquired from Russia after a significant refurbishment.

Read all here.