The military partnership with Russia may be changed by India in the near future if Moscow still refuses to provide important technologies.
The military partnership with Russia is not making India happy, the reason is that Moscow is not ready to provide New Delhi with the necessary technologies.
According to source, the sale of the S-400 air defense system demonstrates Russia’s readiness to deliver advanced weapons systems to India. But New Delhi says it needs more than that. Moscow currently refuses to cooperate militarily with New Delhi under the principle of technology transfer, when it only provides weapons and equipment parts made in Russia for India to assemble finished products.
“Military partnership with Russia needs to be reconsidered, especially in light of India’s desire to be independent in defense industry,” said former Defense Council secretariat chief Mohan G. Kumar to Economic Times.
According to Mr. Kumar, military cooperation between the two countries has been going on for more than half a century, starting in the 1960s. During this time, India received “important military equipment” such as T-72/90 tank, a family of MiG and Su-30 family fighters.
However, Mr. Kumar said that the Indian defense industry sector, where these products are manufactured, has not been able to increase the level of localization due to barriers from Moscow.
“This is evidenced by the declining state of arms factories. A reliable domestic version of the aircraft engine has not yet been developed,” Kumar stressed.
In Kumar’s opinion, Moscow is hindering progress in India’s defense sector: “Russia does not want to help India build its own capacity to produce components and spare parts for weapons manufactured and supplied by the Soviet Union and Russia”.
“As India’s dependence on Russia has grown, the growth rate of the domestic defense industry has slowed down significantly.”
In addition, the former secretary of the Indian Defense Council also said that efforts to establish a joint production base of military products have been unsuccessful:
“The Russian arms supplier wants to maintain a monopoly on securing spare parts, which is unacceptable. India’s displeasure is evident in the gradual transition from Russian weapons to Western products”. According to Kumar, after the US sold C-17 and C-130 military transport aircraft, contracts for the purchase of Apache and Chinook helicopters, M777 light howitzers and many other deals were made by India.
A breakthrough in military cooperation with Russia seems to be the agreement to produce multi-purpose light helicopters Ka-226T signed in 2015 which is also in danger of severe failure: This is the first such collaborative project with provisions on technology transfer, private sector participation and creation of a production cycle instead of just assembling components as before.
New Delhi has planned to manufacture 40 planes in Russia and another 160 in India. However, this promising project is still at a standstill “despite India’s need for a new light multi-purpose helicopter”.
“The project has stalled because it has not resolved the level of production localization. Although the need to replace India’s aging Chetak and Cheetah fleet is very urgent”, Mr. Kumar emphasized.
“As demand for light helicopters could amount to more than 600, both sides must be flexible to finalize a technology transfer agreement that is mutually beneficial.”
For Russia and India, this could be the last chance to revisit the strategic relationship on a constructive partnership basis,” warned the former Indian defense official.