India and Russia are expected to resolve their differences over the cost and work-share issues related to one of their most important defence projects, the co-development and production of the Sukhoi/HAL fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) during Defence Minister Arun Jaitley’s three-day visit to Russia from Wednesday.
An official source in Moscow said Jaitley will co-chair the 17th meeting of the India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu on Friday.
‘’The meeting will review the entire range of military and military-technical cooperation issues between India and Russia within the framework of the special and privileged partnership between the two countries,’’ the source added.
Jaitley would also co-chair the first meeting of the high level committee on science and technology between the two countries with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin during the visit. This is a newly established committee to discuss cooperation in high technologies.
The meeting will be held on the sidelines of the ‘Technoprom’ exhibition in the city of Novosibirsk. He will also address the main plenary session of ‘Technoprom’, which is a major annual science, technology and innovation exhibition in Russia.
The Defence Minister’s visit comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to Russia early this month to participate in St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) and hold his annual summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Jaitley’s visit is being considered crucial as negotiations between the two countries over the FGFA have been stuck over a host of issues. Russia is said to be demanding an ‘unaffordable price’ as part of its share in the development of the fighter jet, given that the work-sharing agreement currently under discussions includes the transfer of sensitive Russian defence technology.
India, the source said, was not in a position to pay the huge money being demanded by Russia. Also New Delhi believes that it is co-develop of the aircraft and there is nothing called technology transfer in the project.
In 2007, India and Russia had inked an inter-governmental pact for the FGFA project. In December 2010, India had agreed to pay $295 million towards the preliminary design of the fighter, which is called in India as the 'Perspective Multi-role Fighter' (PMF).