Russia is still a key defense technology exporter to India said deputy general director of Russia's state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, Viktor Komardin, on Friday, on the sidelines of AeroIndia 2013.
"We have helped develop the Indian defence system since the very beginning. And we are still an important strategic parnter for Government of India, in the sphere of defence, sharing technology, and exporting weapons and material," said Komardin, who heads the Russian delegation at the upcoming Aero India 2013.
Russia, which accounts for about 70 per cent of Indian defence purchases, has lost four crucial multi-billion dollar bids to American or European firms, since Aero show 2011. Also, the country faces growing competition on the Indian defense market as India diversified military imports in the past few years.
In the recent past, US-based Boeing won the tender for attack and heavy left copters beating the Russian MI-28 and MI-26, respectively, Dassault Aviation from France bagged $11 billion (about Rs 55,000 crore) deal for 126 fighter jets, leaving Russian MiG-35 and four others out.
"We provide India with the cheapest and most substantial options and we are open to technology transfers with you unlike most other Western countries," said Komardin.
Komardin was referring to the Indian deals with US defense companies.
He, however, declined to answer the reason behind the Russian companies failing to some clinch key deals in the recent times.
"You (Indian media) often give us bad publicity and don't highlight us as your country's most important strategic partner," he said adding, "My criticism is not towards the Government of India but the media."
In 2012, Russia finalised over $3.5 billion new arms export agreements with India, which includes the purchase of 71 Mi-17B-5 Hip helicopters and the delivery of assembly kits for 42 Su-30MKI Flanker fighters, while the current portfolio of Indian contracts is worth more than $7 billion.
Rosoboronexport ships at least $3 billion worth of weapons and material annually under the contracts that have already been signed with the Indian state clients, Komardin said.
"We are also talking over plans to upgrade India's fleet of Ka-28 anti-submarine helicopters and Su-30MKIs, and to supply a batch of Mi-17V-5 to the Indian interior ministry," he said.
At the Aero India 2013, Rosoboronexport will present the Yak-130 combat trainer, II-78MK-90 tanker, latst II-76MD-90A military transport aircraft, Be-200 multipurpose amphibian, Mi-35M, Mi26T2, Ka 31 and Ka 226T helicopters and other samples of Russian aircraft industry like training aids and airborne weapons.
By Rhik KunduRhik Kundu, TNN
Bangalore, Feb 10, 2013