The race is on! Within a couple of days of Pakistan Air Force getting its cache of Fourth Generation fighter F-16 Jets, India and Russia have agreed to co-develop Fifth Generation of fighter jets. The two nations have also agreed to have agreed to collaborate to develop heavy lift cargo helicopters and futuristic infantry combat vehicles.
The two nations signed a new protocol to extend hi-tech defense collaboration. The Indian Defense Minister AK Antony and his Russian counterpart Anatoly Serdyukov signed the documents yesterday in Moscow at the end of 9th session of India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on military-technical cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) after assurances from Moscow that all pending issues like the delivery of aircraft carrier Gorshkov and nuclear submarine Nerpa would be resolved at the earliest. A joint statement released after the meeting said that India and Russia will collaborate in up-gradation of Indian Air Force’s (IAF) main strike fighter Su-30MKI, the older Mig-27 and T-72M1 battle tanks.
The new protocol extends military interaction between the two nations till the end of 2020. This is also expected to make the path clear for freezing more major defense joint ventures when the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visits Russia in early December this year.
“On many other issues, including the Admiral Gorshkov project, we have agreed to continue discussions to find mutually acceptable solutions,” Antony said expressing confidence that all the pending issues would be resolved at the earliest.
“Our cooperation has confidently moved from buyer-seller relationship to joint research, development and production of hi-tech weapon systems and platforms,” he (Anatoly Serdyukov, Russian Defense Minister) said.
With India and Russia having inked the agreement, it remains to be seen how the world community in general and key military players in the region including China and Pakistan react.