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Russia unhappy with India’s defence buys

Monday, 11 February 2013 04:41

As India is opting to buy weapon platforms from western countries like US in the last few years, Russia has expressed its displeasure and said it has stood by New Delhi for the last 50 years and built India’s defence industry.

Russia is the biggest defence partner of India and more than 70 per cent of inventory in the armed forces is of erstwhile USSR and Russian origin. However, the last one decade has seen India broad basing its options and has bought weapons from the US, France and Israel.

It has emerged as the second biggest supplier of weapons to India after diplomatic relations were established between the two countries in 1990. Israeli companies are now engaged in nearly all the projects like upgrading of planes, ships and guns besides providing electronic warfare equipment and hi-tech surveillance and avionics. Moreover, Israel is actively engaged in several strategic projects of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Given this scenario, Komardin, chief of the Russian Government-owned Rosoboron export, said transfer of military technology over the last 50 years helped India develop its operational capabilities and industry.

Airing these views during the international aerospace exhibition ‘Aero India 2013,’ which ended in Bangalore on Sunday, he said Russia virtually created the Indian defence industry and lamented the fact that this contribution was ignored.

Criticising the media for wrong projection of Russia, Komardin, however, questioned India’s decision to buy more expensive and what he claimed less capable military equipment from western countries. “We are partners, deal with us like partners. Don’t be carried away by chocolates or sweets,” he said.

Giving an example, Komardin wondered about India’s decision to go in for US-made Chinook heavy lift helicopter over the Russian manufactured MI-26 and said “the Mi-26 cannot lose out to Chinook. Chinook is a baby. The Mi-26 can lift it and can drop it anywhere.”

His observation came in the back drop of NATO forces in Afghanistan often requisitioning a MI-26 to lift a snag-hit Chinook and drop it to the nearest base. “We don’t accept that the Mi-26 lost out to the Chinook. It’s all politics. A Mi-26 can transport 80 troops. The Chinook, in comparison, doesn’t have half of its capability,” Komardin said. “It is not the Boeing that is winning the tenders, the US State department is doing so...We have offered licensed production for all equipment since 1964, the US is doing sales without transfer of technology,” he said.

Stating that Russia will not sell weapons to Pakistan, the Rosoboronexport chief also questioned India’s decision to buy C-17 heavy lift transport aircraft from the US and said the cost of these planes is high and comes without transfer of technology. He said the US, Canada and Australia use these planes to ferry weapons and troops long distance and wondered about India going in for C-17.

India is buying 10 C-17s from the US through the foreign military sale(FMS) route and the first plane is expected to join IAF in June or July and the entire fleet will be operational by mid next year.

Stressing the point that Russia has always shared technology with India for frontline weapon system, Komardin said the list included SU-30MKI jets, T-90 main battle tank, Smerch rockets, BrahMos missile, the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and the multi-role transport aircraft.

However, the Indian defence establishment justifies its decision to look for other countries besides Russia due to problems of assured supply of spare parts for weapon systems. In fact, the problems assume serious proportions sometimes and the top political leadership of the two countries had to intervene to sort out the matter.

Monday, 11 February 2013 01:53 Pioneer News Service | New Delhi

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