Defence Minister said government was going to unveil defence procurement policy soon

NEW DELHI: India has conveyed to Russia that it will not be part of the project now to develop a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) and may join the programme at a later stage, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said today.

"It was conveyed to Russia that they can go ahead with the project and we may join it at a later stage," the defence minister told reporters.

India's decision came after years of negotiations between the two countries could not yield concrete result on various contentious issues including sharing of cost of the project which was estimated at around USD 30 billion or Rs 2 lakh crore.

India and Russia had signed an inter-governmental agreement for the mega project in 2007, vowing to take the military ties between the two strategic partners to the next level.

However, the project has been stuck for the last 11 years as there have been serious differences between the two sides on sharing cost of developing the jet, technologies to be used in it and number of aircraft to be produced, sources said.

To a separate question, Sitharaman said the government is adopting a layered approach to achieve the final goal of theatre command and that the thrust was on a bottom-up approach.

She also said that a high-level committee has been set up to recommend cost of military platforms being developed by various defence public sector undertakings.

She said the panel will initially take up development of Tejas Light Combat Aircraft which is being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and the report is likely to be submitted in two months.

Replying to another question, she said government was going to unveil defence procurement policy soon.