India, Russia sign 14 MoUs for joint defence production


 In a major boost to India’s defence manufacturing sector, the government has signed 14 MoUs with the Russian weapons manufacturers at the recently concluded DefExpo in Lucknow for setting up a slew joint venture for production of military equipment in the country. According to the agreements signed, Indian and Russian firms will jointly produce modern battle equipment such as the T-90 tanks and the Pechora air defence systems. The MoUs were signed during the 5th India-Russia military industry conference held on the sidelines of the expo.

In September last year, India and Russia had signed a crucial intergovernmental agreement to facilitate the joint manufacturing of various types of defence equipments, including spare-parts and aggregates, for all Russian-made systems used in the country’s armed forces. It is hoped this initiative would remove the unnecessary delays and bottlenecks in implementing the objectives. The Lucknow agreements are a landmark moment in the Indo-Russian defence industry cooperation.

Russia was the largest foreign exhibitor at the 2020 Lucknow DefExpo from February 5-9. Around 1,000 different types of battle equipment such as automatic AU-220M, lightweight 57 mm weapon station, 300-mm 9K515 multiple rocket launcher, Kalashnikov AK-200 series assault rifles, Ka-226T light utility helicopter, and MiG-35 multi-functional front-line fighter, among others, were showcased at the event.

The latest MoUs will give a huge boost to the Indian defence manufacturing sector, especially to the government’s Make in India initiative, which seeks to promote collaborations with foreign firms for joint production of different products, including weapons, in India. The Russia-India Military Conference was co-chaired by Russian Deputy Industry and Trade Minister Oleg Ryazantsev and Indian Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar.

The MoUs, signed between Russian defence manufacturer Rosoboronexport and India’s DRDO, HAL, and BHEL, cover the production of a wide range of land, air and, naval defence systems as well as high-tech civilian products, including the production of advanced pyrotechnic ignition systems, spares and services, and Ka-226 helicopters, among others. According to an official, the deals are worth over $16 billion. He said that the production of AK machine guns and the Ka-226T multi-purpose helicopters would start soon.