Understanding was reached yesterday on a host of future potential procurement contracts and military-industrial cooperation programmes when the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, heading a high-level delegation to India, held discussions with the Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) delegation led by Defence Minister A K Antony. On top of the agenda was the planned procurement of another three (Batch-3) Project 1135.6 guided-missile frigates (FFG) that would conform to the same specifications as those for the three Batch-2 Project 1135.6 FFGs that are now in delivery for the Indian Navy (IN).
Also discussed were plans for Russian military-industrial involvement in forthcoming domestic shipbuilding projects like the planned construction of seven Project 17A FFGs and four Project 15B guided-missile destroyers, stepped life-extension programme (SLEP) for the three Project 15 DDGs, and another SLEP for the IN’s 10 existing Project 1241RE guided-missile corvettes, of which the first five were acquired off-the-shelf from Russia between 1987 and 1991, while six were subsequently licence-built by the MoD-owned Mazagon Docks Ltd (MDL) and Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL) at a unit cost of US$35 million.
The discussions also included plans for proceeding ahead with the upgrading of the mission management system and mission sensors of the IN’s existing eight Tu-142ME LRMR/ASW aircraft by installing on each of them the Novella (Sea Dragon) suite, developed by St Petersburg-based Leninets Holding Company and already operational on board the IN’s five existing IL-38SD MRMR/ASW aircraft. Once completed, the upgraded Tu-142MEs, each armed with torpedoes as well as up to four Novator 3M54E Klub supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, are expected to remain in service until 2024.
While all the to-be-built principal surface combatants for the IN would be built by MDL and armed with vertically-launched BrahMos-1 supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, the three Project 15 DDGs and five Project 1241RE guided-missile corvettes too will be retrofitted with inclined launchers for the BrahMos. The latter were designed by Russia’s St Petersburg-based Almaz Central Design Bureau and are currently each equipped with four P-20 Termit anti-ship cruise missiles and Harpoon-E target engagement system. Under the planned SLEP—to be carried out by GSL—the P-20s will give way to eight BrahMos missiles mounted on twin inclined quad launchers, while the Harpoon-E will give way to the Sigma-E suite.
Therefore, it came as no surprise when Rogozin with the accompanying high-level military-industrial delegation visited BrahMos Aerospace Pvt Ltd’s headquarters on July 17, 2012. There, he was shown a full-scale mock-up of the Army version of the BrahMos Mobile Autonomous Launcher and was briefed about it by Dr A Sivathanu Pillai, CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace. Rogozin was also briefed on the achievements and progress the India-Russia JV had made in recent years, including a futuristic ‘Vision Plan 2050’ for developing newer technologies to remain a market leader in its fields of activity. After completion of this visit, Rogozin remarked: “I am delighted to see the enthusiasm of Indian and Russian specialists who have made the BrahMos project a success. I believe in its bright future as I believe in the future of friendship between our two nations.” Earlier, when addressing the young scientists, engineers marketing and management officials of BrahMos Aerospace he said: “Latest technologies can be shared with close friends only , which has been seen in our cooperation in BrahMos, both India and Russia are great countries and working together we can do wonders. I wish you all the best and success in the development of futuristic technologies for both our nations.”
During the Russian Deputy Premier’s visit, Dr Pillai highlighted the importance of the JV’s product being inducted into service with the Russian Navy, and expediting the development of new products, including the hypersonic BrahMos-2, to maintain technological edge over other countries and maintain its ‘First-in-the-World’ status. Rogozin was accompanied by the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to India Alexander Kadakin, Head of Federal Services for Military Technical Cooperation Alexander Fomin, Head of Military Industrial Consortium NPOM Dr Alexander Leonov, Head of Tactical Missile Armament Cooperation Boris Obnocov, Head of United Aircraft Cooperation Mikhail Pogosyn, and the Head of Rosoboronexport State Corp Anatoli Isykin, and other Russian military-industrial officials.