India-Russia-US

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The Times of India reports that on January 21, 2015, Manohar Parrikar, the Indian defence minister and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu, “have decided to fast-track joint military programmes, including the proposed joint development and production of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA)”[1], a project that has known virtually no progress in the last few years. According to the same source[2], “India is keen that Russia resolve the technical issues as well as ensure that the stealth fighter's deliveries begin much before the earlier slated induction from 2024-2025 onwards”; India is expected to “spend a total of $25 billion on the entire FGFA project”, and will gain “127 single-seat fighters”, which are “to be built at the Ozar facility of Hindustan Aeronautics in Nashik”. Sputnik International (formerly Ria Novosti) mentions that “a Russian-Indian joint venture in charge of the project said Russian and Indian engineers had completed a preliminary design for the Sukhoi/HAL”[3] FGFA in early January 2015. In addition to this project, the Indian government “had invited Russian companies to come over to India for other joint projects, specifically the production of spare parts for Russia-made military equipment on the Indian soil”[4].

The meeting between the Indian and Russian defence ministers comes just a few days prior to Obama’s scheduled visit to India, as the American president will be the chief guest at India’s Republic Day celebrations. It is the first time that a U.S. head of state “will be given this honour by India and reflects, more than anything else, the degree of comfort that Delhi has in its relations with Washington”[5]. The agenda of the talks between Modi and Obama will probably include military, and intelligence aspects, especially since “a few dozen possible technologies and weapon systems have been offered by the U.S.”, with India being “particularly interested in drones” and “carrier technology”; when it comes to intelligence, “India and U.S. already enjoy a very high level of intelligence sharing on terrorism”[6].

It is known that, at the moment, the relationship between Russia and the U.S. is filled with antagonisms and that is has reached probably its lowest point since the end of the Cold War, since the two actors have diverging interests on a number of issues. However, this does not stop New Delhi from cooperating with both countries in the interest of diversifying, expanding and perfecting India’s military power.

[1] “India, Russia to fast-track joint military programmes”, The Times of India, January 22, 2015, accessed at the Internet address http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-Russia-to-fast-track-joint-military-programmes/articleshow/45973332.cms

[2] Ibidem

[3] “Russian, Indian Defense Chiefs Agree to Speed Up Joint Military Projects”, Sputnik International, January 21, 2015, accessed at the Internet address http://sputniknews.com/military/20150121/1017186461.html

[4] Ibidem

[5] Pramit Pal CHAUDHURI, “Why Obama’s India Republic Day visit is significant”, BBC, January 22, 2015, accessed at the Internet address http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-30844184

[6] Ibidem

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