New Delhi agreed to produce “additional” Russian military equipment in India during a Tuesday meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar in New Delhi.
“We confirmed that we are going to deepen our military cooperation,” Lavrov told reporters after the meeting.
“We also discussed prospective and additional manufacturing of Russian military equipment in India within the concept ‘Made in India,'” Russia’s top diplomat said, referring to a New Delhi campaign promoting domestic manufacturing.
“We have discussed the prospects for defense cooperation, including the joint production of advanced weapons in India,” Lavrov told reporters from Russia’s state-run TASS news agency on April 6.
Though neither minister on Tuesday revealed what types of Russian military equipment India might produce, New Delhi agreed to manufacture 200 Russian-designed Kamov Ka 226T helicopters for India’s army and air force in December 2015. The Indo-Russian helicopter deal has been in the works for the past few years and was progressing toward a “formal go-ahead” as recently as February 2020, with an expected “rollout” date of 2025, according to the Economic Times of India.
“The first batch of helicopters will come out of our production facility at Tumkur in [southwestern India’s] Karnataka [state] by 2025 if everything goes as per plan,” Indo-Russian Helicopters Ltd. CEO N. M. Srinath told the Press Trust of India in February 2020.
“The Kamov Ka-226T helicopter has 72 percent Russian components and 28 percent from various western countries,” Srinath said.
Indian military sources allegedly told India’s WION news site in August 2020 that Moscow and New Delhi had resolved to “fast-track” the Kamov chopper joint venture.
“The parties have resolved and will make all efforts to fast-track the launching of these projects,” the sources said.
“India will be able to receive some crucial helicopter technologies” with “integration of various helicopter systems being possible,” the sources added.
Russia’s foreign minister alluded to this possible information-sharing between New Delhi and Moscow on April 6 when discussing the two parties’ joint military cooperation.
“We are the only country that actually provides India with advanced defense technologies. We are confident that efforts to boost Russian-Indian defense cooperation are in line with the national interests of both countries,” Lavrov told TASS.
“India-Russia ties are characterized by consistent ability to identify and update shared interests,” Indian Foreign Minister Jaishankar told reporters on Tuesday.
India plans to acquire five Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems under a 2018 agreement with Moscow. The U.S. has voiced opposition to the $5.5 million venture and threatened New Delhi with sanctions if it follows through with the agreement as part of its campaign to discourage foreign countries from inking defense deals with Moscow. India says it needs the Russian anti-aircraft weapons systems to counter an ongoing threat from its belligerent neighbor, China, with which it remains engaged in a nearly year-long border standoff in the Himalayas.