New Delhi: Ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to India this week, the two countries will hold talks on Tuesday to iron out differences on the much delayed joint multi-billion dollar Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) project.
Defence sources said the talks between Indian and Russian officials here are being held as both the countries are keen to go ahead with the FGFA. Putin is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi the next day.
However, there are issues on which both sides have not arrived at a consensus. The sources said that it is "unlikely" that the contract would be signed during Putin's visit. "There are issues that exist. Talks were held earlier too but nothing concrete has emerged so far," the sources said, adding another round of talks will be held on December 9. Currently, the final design and research and development contracts are under negotiations between the two countries.
The preliminary design agreement on FGFA had been signed in 2010 between HAL and Russian Sukhoi Design Bureau to build the jet for use by both countries. But the final R&D contract, which was to be signed by 2012, is still to be finalised. The contract would pave the way for prototype development and flight testing. Though India is investing 50 per cent of the cost of the multi-billion dollar programme, its work share in the research and development and other aspects of the programme has come down to around 13 per cent, something which Indian officials are not happy about.
Sources said this will impact India's indigenous capabilities to develop such an advanced fighter aircraft. They also said that there are issues related to other aspects of the plane too.
The FGFA project is based on the Russian Air Force's Sukhoi T-50 PAK-FA platform. The Indian version will be tweaked to add some more advanced features. The total programme is expected to cost India about USD 25-30 billion. IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha recently acknowledged that some issues regarding Indian work-share in the programme need to be resolved. The FGFA is a long-term acquisition that would take at least eight years from the signing of the contract.