PM Modi’s Russia visit: New, cheaper deal on Sukhoi fighter planes

Russia has made a new offer on the delivery of Sukhoi T-50 (PAK FA) fighter jets to India under the joint fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) initiative.

Under the new offer, India will have to pay $3.7 billion, instead of $6 billion, for the technological know-how and three prototypes of PAK FA fighters. The proposal awaits a decision from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he meets Russian President Vladimir Putin for the annual India-Russia summit this week.

India and Russia had signed an inter-governmental agreement to co-develop and co-produce the FGFA in 2007, which was followed by the $295 million preliminary design contract in December 2010. Modelled on the successful Brahmos missile project, the project involves Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). The overall FGFA project cost for making 127 single-seat fighters in India has been estimated to be around $30 billion.

The final design contract, under which both sides were to contribute an initial $6 billion each for prototype development and production, has not been signed between India and Russia so far. Meanwhile, Russia has gone ahead with the development of PAK FA and claims that it will enter service with the Russian Air Force in 2016, and enter serial production in 2017.

“Now that they already have the fighter, the Russians have made a revised offer to us. For $3.7 billion, they will give us all the technological know-how of making the fighter. We will also get three prototypes from them in that amount,” a senior defence ministry official said.

But the Indian Air Force (IAF) remains opposed to the idea. A senior IAF official said, “We are not in favour of the FGFA. The PAK FA fighter is too expensive at even this rate, and we are not sure of its capabilities.”

Sources said the Russian offer is driven by Moscow’s cash crunch and lack of firm orders with its defence industry.


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