After months of acrimony, Russia has finally agreed to transfer key technology for the frontline T-90 tanks enabling Indian armament factories to now go ahead and produce these weapon platforms indigenously.
"Russians have finally agreed to supply specifications of the T-90 tank barrels by end of this year," a top Defence ministry official said in New Delhi on Tuesday after the two-day long intensive deliberations between the two countries.
The delay in providing the specifications had held up the indigenous production of the T-90 tanks at the Avadi Heavy Vehicles Factory.
India and Russia have signed agreements for delivery of almost 1,200 T-90 tanks at a cost of a staggering US 1.2 billion dollars.
The deal, concluded in three tranches over the past five years, also specifies transfer of technology for production of another 1,000 to 1,500 tanks in India.
At the 8th meeting of the Indo-Russian working group on shipbuilding, aviation and land systems, Moscow also agreed to full product support for indigenous production of these tanks.
"The Russian side have agreed that the delivery schedule mutually accepted by the two countries in June this year would be maintained," the official said.
With this crucial agreement, it has become apparent that the Indian army would continue to rely on the Russian tanks as its main battle tanks. This is significant as the indigenous Arjun tanks have yet to pass the crucial induction trials.
Though the Ordnance Factories Board had concluded the technology transfer agreement with Russia way back in 2001, Moscow's reluctance to part with key barrel specifications had held up the indigenous production of the tanks.
At the meeting co-chaired by Ajay Acharya, Additional Secretary, Defence Production, and his Russian counterpart Karavaev Igor Evgeniyevich, New Delhi also submitted its technical requirements for the joint development of a futuristic 5th generation fighter aircraft.
Though the aircraft design is yet to be finalised, the two countries have agreed to step up efforts to ensure that the new fighter enters flying service by 2015.
The key working group met within the framework of the Indo-Russian intergovernmental commission military technical cooperation and also took up issues for supply of Russian sub-systems for India's new range of P-17A warships.
"The talks were held in a highly professional manner. Sides expressed their readiness to take all the necessary measures to further develop cooperation on a mutually beneficial basis," Defence Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.
Russia has also agreed to open cooperation with the bluechip public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited as an offset partner for future programmes.