India and Russia strengthened their bilateral relationship by signing major defence deals worth billions of dollars on Sunday. The deal is being considered highly important for Moscow too as it tries to fight tough competition from the Americans and Europeans to continue being New Delhi's foremost defence supplier.
While India and Russia will sign a "complex agreement" for production of 200 Kamov, 226T helicopters domestically under a nearly USD 1 billion deal to replace the country's ageing Cheetah and Chetak choppers, a deal on naval frigatesis also likely. Russian media reports have said other major deals will be signed too.
The most strategic important military deal will be the one for the supply of S-400 'Triumf' long-range air defence missile systems which has the capability to destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
Russian presidential aide Yuri Ushakov has been quoted assaying by TASS news agency that the deal for the air defencesystem will be signed. India and Russia have been in talks for over a year for the purchase of at least S S400 systems that will be a game changer in the region.
It is capable of firing three types of missiles, creatinga layered defence, and simultaneously engaging 36 targets. If India signs the deal, it would be the second customer of the prized missile system after China which had struck a USD 3 billion contract last year.
Other contracts that both countries are eyeing relate to the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, leasing of a second nuclear submarine by India and production of a new version of the BrahMos missile.
While Russia has traditionally being India's main defence supplier, recent years have seen American and European companies making a big headway. Russia has slowly fought back and offered a slew of equipment, even under the 'Make in India' initiative.