New Delhi: In a strategic move, India and Russia are all set to sign a major inter-governmental agreement (IGA) on spare parts for defence equipment that will also pave the way for transfer of technology and joint manufacture of products under the Make in India initiative.
The agreement will also see better and round-the-clock availability of equipment for Indian forces.
Top government sources told ThePrint that the two countries are in the last stage of finalising the agreement which will cover equipment used by all three services – Army, Navy and the Indian Air Force.
The sources also said that it will pave the way for further India-Russia joint collaborations – similar to ones made for BrahMos cruise missiles, Kamov helicopters and the AK-203 rifles factory in Amethi.
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Lack of spare parts, lower serviceability ratio
Russia continues to be one of the largest supplier of military equipment to India and this agreement will be a major boost for Indian forces.
But one of the main problems facing Indian forces is servicing and maintenance of military equipment – spare parts are in short supply and have to be imported from Russia. This also means lower serviceability ratio of products since servicing of most equipment are due for longer duration, severely impacting warfighting capabilities of the forces.
For example, the availability ratio of India’s front-line fighter aircraft Sukhoi Su-30MKI is below 55 per cent. This means that for every 100 Sukhoi fighters in India’s stable, only less than 55 are available for operation at any given point of time.
It was former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who had pushed for production of Russian spare parts in India and took up the matter with Moscow.
Lack of available spare parts has also pushed India to source spares for Su-30MKI fighter aircraft directly from France and Israel, due to shortage of Russian-origin spare parts. The original equipment manufacturer (OEM) for Su-30MKI in Russia had a shortage of spares and faced problems in sourcing them from Belarus and Ukraine.
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Sources said the aim is to get the IGA inked during the India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation in September in Russia. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be heading the Indian delegation.
Initially, Russia had suggested having separate IGAs for planes, helicopters, armored vehicles, anti- missile systems, naval and (aircraft carrier) Vikramaditya. However, India pushed for a comprehensive single IGA which encompasses all.
A top Russian official said Moscow supports the Make in India initiative and is willing to set up manufacturing facilities in India for spare parts.