New Delhi: India is set to sign a major arms deal with Russia to purchase 350 more upgraded T-90 main battle tanks equipped with French night visions in a deal worth more than $300 million.
The tanks, which would be used to equip two Indian armoured divisions, are expected to be delivered within 3 to 4 years, according to Russian sources here.
The deal was to be signed during the visit from tomorrow of a high level Russian Defence Delegation headed by General Alexi Fedroovich Maslov, but has run into trouble after Moscow demanded millions of dollars more in sale of additional Sukhoi fighters and carrier Groshkov.
However, the Russians say that they are confident that the deal would go through in the next two months.
India is seeking to buy these additional T-90 tanks off the shelf as production under technology transfer at Avadi Heavy armament factory is slow due to technical problems.
The induction of fresh T-90 tanks would mean that two of the three strike corps of the Indian Army would be equipped with these frontline weapons, which are far superior to Pakistan’s T-80 tanks acquired from Ukraine.
With the country’s indigenous Arjun Main Battle tank still to undergo comparative induction trials, the army’s other armoured formations are equipped with upgraded T-72m tanks.
As questions still loom large on the Arjun tanks, DRDO is still awaiting for the army’s nod for another indigenous X battle tank.
The X battle tanks made by Indian scientists after mounting Arjun 125mm turret with Chasis of the Russian T-72 tanks has already undergone some user trials.
The Russian delegation comprising top officials from Russian land forces, navy, air force and ministry of defence and armament export agencies would also seek to clear the decks for signing of another significant agreement for the joint development of a multi-role transport aircraft.
The visit also assumes significance in the wake of reports that Russian manufacturers have sought a review of Defence contracts with India demanding millions of dollars more in sale of aircraft carrier Groshkov and SU-30 fighters claiming drop in value of the dollar.
Maslov, who is the Commander in Chief of the Russian land forces, and his tri-service delegation would hold talks with Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt, three service Chiefs Gen J J Singh, Admiral Suresh Mehta and Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major.
The visit of the Russian delegation comes on the heels of an air dash to Moscow by the Defence Secretary and Secretary Defence (finance) V K Misra during which the Russians proposed the hefty price escalation for the defence contracts.
According to officials in the Defence Production department, the deal for joint production of the Multi-role transport aircraft would be split on a fifty-fifty basis.
The project would be between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and Russia’s Irkut, Illyushin and Rosboron export to develop a hi-tech transport plane for the armed forces of the two countries with an eye on capturing a chunk of the international market.
The aircraft would be developed simultaneously in India and Russia and would make its maiden flight in 2012 and enter commercial production by 2014.
The 20 tonner medium range transport aircraft would be based on Illyushin IL-214 project powered by PS-90A-76 engines to be subsequently replaced by more advanced PS-12 engine, currently under development.