Also likely to sign pact on production of spare parts in India

by Manu Pubby

NEW DELHI: Moving ahead on agreements to produce assault rifles and helicopters in India will be among the top items on agenda when Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets President Vladimir Putin for bilateral talks in Vladivostok this week.

ET has learnt that significant progress has been made on both the agreements and talks will firm up the time frames to operationalise the deals by starting production in India. In addition, the two sides are also likely to sign an agreement that will lead to the production of spare parts for Russian origin military equipment in India, most likely under a Joint Venture (JV) framework.

High on the agenda will be the discussions on the next step of placing of an order for light helicopters by the Army and Air Force to the Indo Russia Helicopters Limited (IRHL), which was formed after an agreement signed in 2015 during a visit by PM Modi. The Rs 20,000 crore deal for setting up a production line in India and transfer of technology for the manufacturing of over 200 choppers for the Air force and Army is being processed and technical details have now been finalised with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) which is the prime contractor.

Source said the two sides will also take forward talks on the Indo Russian Rifles Pvt Ltd (IRRPL) joint venture for production of AK 203 assault rifles at Korwa in Uttar Pradesh. The JV was formed after an agreement in February this year and the next step is to place a firm order so that production can be kicked off.

The Defence Ministry is processing a tender for the production of 6.71lakh rifles at the facility and is keen that 100 per cent indigenisation of the weapons is achieved as the JV will also focus on exports to friendly foreign nations.

While final discussions are on, both sides are hopeful that a critical agreement that will solve a long standing issue on the steady supply of spare parts for Russian origin equipment will also be inked during the visit. The agreement is for setting up a Joint Venture that will produce spare parts for all equipment - ranging from aircraft, warships to land based fighting units.