Defence ties between India and Russia are all set to witness new highs and the coming months will unfold announcements from both sides on formation of Joint Ventures and for setting up manufacturing facilities in line with the government’s ‘Make In India’ initiative.
Defenceaviationpost.com spoke to many companies and senior brass of the Ministry of Defence on the possible tie-ups and the expectations of the Russian defence industry from the Indian government.
The joint manufacturing facilities by the Russian and Indian firms would include spare parts, subsystems, aircraft engines for Russian-origin military systems in India besides armoured and protected vehicles, submarines parts and the JVs will be for the forthcoming defence programs for fighter jets, submarines and helicopters.
A broad agreement has been reached between a number of Russian and Indian defence firms on technology transfer, manufacturing of components, parts and military systems and sub-systems.
These talks took place during course of a conference on March 18 and 19 in New Delhi on deepening defence engagement between the two countries. The conference was inaugurated by Arun Jaitley, Union minister of finance, corporate affairs and defence and was attended by more than 100 Russian and over 150 Indian industry representatives.
India’s leading engineering, construction and manufacturing firm, L&T said it has been in touch with Russians companies for quite some years now as they have been maintaining an office in Russia for past more than two decades.
For now, the major relationships being worked out are understood to be for collaboration in strategic defence program that the company did not reveal anything. However, L&T confirmed that is in talks with United Shipbuilding Corporation, (design bureau) Rubin and Zvyozdochka ship yard for refit of kilo class submarines.
“We have also tied up with civilian aerospace science and technology bureau Tsagi for collaborating on trisonic wind tunnels for ISRO and other S&T laboratories in India,” said Jayant D Patil, Head of Defence and Aerospace, L&T.
Mr Patil said some more tie-ups exist with Russian firms including collaboration in building civilian nuclear power plants at Kudankulam.
The Kalyani group, too, had wide ranging focussed discussions with various Russian companies on technical collaborations and JV tie-ups on various fronts such as upgrade of Armoured vehicles as also manufacturing of spare parts for these vehicles in the country; ready to provide kits for the OFBs; for protected vehicles; for vehicles subsystems and aircraft engines.
“There is tremendous potential for both countries to collaborate in the areas of defence manufacturing and technologies, and we continue to see Russia as a partner to the country’s “Make in India” growth story,” said Vernon Noronha, Head – Defence Business, Tata Motors Ltd.
“We have developed and delivered Tata Multiaxle specialist trucks to a leading Russian Air Defence Missile manufacturer for a sofisticated Missile system and in the years to come we see room for further collaborations, he added.
Indian companies are very upbeat about the going ahead and business potential under the Make In India for defence sector PM Narendra Modi has himself stated that the defence sector will be the largest contributor to the government’s Make In I did initiative.
“The aim of these collaborations is do it in India and supply as per requirements of HAL and OFBs,” said Rajinder Singh Bhatia, President and CEO, Defence and Aerospace, Kalyani Group.
“Companies for armoured vehicles included Uralvagonzavod or UVZ, Aerospace companies including Russian Helicopters and Aerospace and also other automobile companies for protected vehicles,” added Mr Bhatia.
UVZ is a leading company for all tanks and BMPs of Russian origin.
On the upgrade of Armoured vehicles as also providing latest spare parts for the same through Russian collaborations, Mr Bhatia said an announcement can be expected from Kalyani’s fold anytime by middle of this year.
Other companies that had detailed discussions with Russian companies included Reliance Defence, Tata Motors, Mahindra and Mahindra and others.
Officials said Russian companies have broadly agreed to facilitate speedy repair and overhaul of Russian-origin military platforms in India and manufacture their spare parts through joint venture and technology transfer with Indian companies.
It has been a long-standing grievance of the Indian armed forces that the supply of critical spares and equipment from Russia takes a long time affecting maintenance of military systems procured from that country.