India is currently negotiating a contract with Russia for 127 Fifth Generation Fighting Aircraft (FGFA), an aircraft designed on the Russian PAK FA 5th generation multirole fighter aircraft. The contract is evaluated at more than $25 billion Euros.
The news comes at a good time since the Russian Armed Forces dramatically decreased its PAK FA order due to economical issues. The original order was 52 T-50 but was reduced to 12. Russia will instead concentrate on 4++ generation fighters such as the Sukhoi Su-30 and the Su-35.
Russia would deliver its first FGFA in 36 months instead of the previous estimation of 94 months. After the first batch built in Russia, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will takeover the production under transfer of technology.
The FGFA will be a two-seater fighter instead of a one-seater for the T-50. The FGFA will also be armed with Indian-made Astra, a beyond-visual-range missile (BVR). An additional 43 improvements such as stealth, supercruise, sensors, networking and combat avionics will be applied to the FGFA.
India was considering buying 126 French Rafale but only 36 will join the Indian Air Force. Modi and Putin met last December and spoke about the non-delivery of the Mistral LHD due to the ongoing Ukrainian conflict. India could have turned its back—mainly due to Russian influence—on France due to the failed delivery of the Mistral LHDs to Russia. That said, India also has concerns on the future delivery of Rafale parts based on the possibility of having the United States putting pressure on France to limits its exportation to India.
We can say Putin got his revenge on France’s decision to not deliver the Mistral.
Russia is also the oldest and most important military partner of India. Both countries have cooperated on many military projects, including the FGFA. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Russian President Vladimir Putin that India would keep Russia has its primary partner in defence materiel.
The first FGFA are planned to be operational in 2016.
India is currently spending more than $40 billion on defence annually (1.84% of its GDP) and holds the 9th rank when it comes to military spending. India is also the world’s largest weapon’s importer.
The $25 billion Euros deal will likely bolster an already solid relationship between India and Russia.