The Indian Air Force is expected to purchase 48 new Mi-17 military helicopters made in Russia. This transaction would effectively make Russia one of the major suppliers of military hardware to the armed forces of India. It has been reported that the deal would be worth 1.1 billion dollars. It is expected that a formal contract for the same would be signed in 2016. With this deal, the connection between India and choppers manufactured in Russia will only grow stronger. In the last five years the Indian Air Force has bought 121 Mi-17V-5 helicopters from Russia.
Indian Air Force to buy military helicopters from Russia
As of now it has 300 Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters, which are engaged in active service and all these have been made in Russia as well. Russia also happens to be the biggest supplier of arms to the Indian armed forces. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute had come out with a report earlier in 2015, which said that from 2010 India has bought almost 40% of the arms exported by Russia. India has bought Russia-made equipment such as aircraft carriers, airplanes, huge naval vessels, and helicopters.
Military choppers to be built together by India and Russia
India will also manufacture 200 helicopters along with Russia in an effort to improve the condition of its defence. It is also expected that this will both diversify and intensify the strategic relations between the two countries. The agreement has been signed of late and it is one of the various defence projects that have seen the two countries collaborate. PS Raghavan, the Indian Ambassador, has stated that the choppers are being built as part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative. This is also expected to be the first production being done under the initiative. In recent times India has branched out to other countries with regards to purchasing defence equipment.
India has recently decided to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. However, as stated by Raghavan, this has had no effect on the defence relations shared by India and Russia, which still remains a major piece in the jigsaw puzzle. The above mentioned co-manufacturing deal between India and Russia is expected to be a major step in the defence ties shared by the two countries according to Raghavan as it involves issues such as licence production and transfer of technologies. He has also stated that at times people only notice the arms transactions not done with Russia and fail to look at the multitude of such agreements with the same country, perhaps implying it to be an unfortunate situation.
The Indian Ambassador to Russia has further stated that a number of projects are being discussed as of now and they will be seeing the light of the day pretty soon. He has also stated that there is no erosion in the defence ties shared by the two countries and has blamed false and unsubstantiated information for such perceptions. He has acknowledged though that India does look at other countries for defence deals but that is only for making the most of the chances that are on offer.
He has stated that the Indian armed forces get 60-70% of their supplies from Russia and that is one situation that will not see a change too soon. Raghavan has also stated that according to Narendra Modi Russia will always be the major defence ally of India.
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