|By Vinay Shukla||Published: July 2017|
Zhukovsky (Moscow Region). Russia is unfazed by India’s growing defence ties with its Western rivals including the US and Israel, a top Russian defence industry official said adding that no other country will give the kind of sensitive technology which Moscow gives to New Delhi as its strategic partner.
“Cooperation with India will certainly continue. Regardless of whether India cooperates only with Russia or also with Israel and other countries. And France also, and USA. We have our own niche, these countries have their own directions for cooperation. Therefore, this does not mean that if India will work with some other countries, cooperation with Russia will cease. No. There are things that no one else will give except Russia. Therefore, Russia has always been and will be a strategic partner of India,” CEO of Russian Technologies – Rostec Corporation Sergei Chemezov said talking to a group of select media including India Strategic on the sidelines of the MAKS-2017 International Aerospace Show held near Moscow July 18-23.
Rostec Corporation – an umbrella organisation of Russian military-industrial complex along with the Russian Federation’s Trade and Industry Ministry was the main sponsor of the 13th edition of biennale MAKS, which 25 years ago started as Moscow Air Show.
“As for India, it has been and remains our strategic partner. Every year we supply products to India for more than $2 billion. Sometimes it is more. Therefore, we have about the same volumes last year as before. That is, there are changes, but insignificant, somewhere in the range of 10-15 per cent is the fluctuation,” Mr Chemezov said and added: “With regard to cooperation with India, it is aimed not only at selling products, but we are also transferring technology. It began in the late 90s with the sale of licenses for Su-30MKIs. Today, these planes are manufactured in India. The T-90S tank India has already mastered production, we continue to provide assistance, we supply the components, but for the most it is already localised. Most recently we signed a contract for the joint production of Ka-226T helicopters. We have to supply a certain amount, most will be localised, in total, in the amount of 200 helicopters. But in the future this amount can be increased. We are working on the 5th generation aircraft, the work continues. That is, our cooperation is very wide.”
“As for the 5th generation fighter – the work is underway. Stage 1 is over. Now we are discussing the 2nd stage. And I think that in the near future all decisions will be made. And the contract documents will be signed. But the work is going on, it is very complicated, so it is not going fast,” Mr Chemezov said responding to a question about uncertainty over FGFA project for the joint development of the futuristic stealth fighter based on Sukhoi’s T-50 PAK-FA.
Mr Chemezov underscored that Russia is the only country which supplies all technologies to India without strings attached citing the example of BrahMos cruise missiles the production of which has been completely localised in India. According to him the degree of localisation had reached the desired levels in the production of T- 90S main battle tanks at Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi (Tamil Nadu) and Sukhoi Su-30MKI at Nashik plant of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
“That is a fairly large number of projects – some have already been implemented, some are being implemented. Russia is the only country for India which without any restrictions transfers all technologies to it,” Mr Chemezov underscored.
ON WESTERN SANCTIONS
When asked about the effect of US-led Western sanctions over Russia’s takeover of Crimea and internal conflict in Eastern Ukraine, Mr Chemezov conceded that his country was facing some problems, but hopes to resolve them soon.
It is well-known that all the top Russian arms exporters and manufacturers and their leadership involved in dealing with India are under the US-led Western sanctions.
“As for the sanctions, of course the problems were and still are, we are gradually solving them, if we talk about those components that we bought in Ukraine. Under the import substitution programme we will have to complete the replacement of all components by the end of 2018, we have already completed it by 90 per cent. We now produce these components ourselves. As for the parts we bought in Europe, we have now found other partners in the world and buy them, making some components ourselves, and I think by 2020 we will fully complete the import substitution, I mean the European components. In America, we did not buy anything,” Mr Chemezov told media persons.
He thinks that in 1-2 years Russia will close its requirements for components earlier imported from Ukraine and EU countries. He pointed that Russia had excellent relations with SAFRAN, THALES, BOEING, AIRBUS, GENERAL ELECTRIC, with whom it had joint ventures. Some of them continue to work independently of sanctions.
“Nevertheless, many other partners wanted to continue work with us. Unfortunately, because of the sanctions, they cannot do this. Life forced us to develop our industry even more, the result you can observe today. But they simply lost the market, and not a small one. And through us market of other countries in East Asia, Africa, Arab countries as well. After all, our export volume does not fall, it is growing every year, there has never been a drop, even due to sanctions,” Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov noted.