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India and Russia agree on new deals to strengthen defence ties

India and Russia deepened their long-standing defence alliance during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi on 6 December by inking two agreements to advance strategic and military co-operation.

These agreements comprised a INR51.24 billion (USD680 million) deal to produce in northern India 601,427 Kalashnikov AK-203 assault rifles for the Indian armed forces, and the renewal of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) until 2031.

Both accords were signed at the inaugural โ€˜2+2 dialogue' between the two countries' defence and foreign ministers ahead of a summit meeting between Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The deal to procure 7.62 mm AK-203 rifles through a Russian technology transfer was agreed in principle in 2019. The project will be undertaken by Indo-Russian Private Limited (IRPL) in Korwa, which operates as a joint venture (JV).

Industry officials told Janes that under the agreement, India would initially import 20,000 AK-203s from Russia for USD1,100 each over the next few months to meet the Indian Army's urgent operational needs.

Production of the rifles at IRPL is expected to begin in early 2022, with the JV required to start indigenising components and subsystems for the AK-203s 18 months thereafter.

The extended IRIGC-M&MTC, which was instituted by India and Russia in 2000, is aimed at facilitating bilateral defence trade and is regarded by New Delhi as critical in terms of supporting in-service materiel. About 60% of all platforms operated by the Indian military is of Russian or Soviet origin.

In addition to the IRIGC-M&MTC, the two countries agreed to advance the joint production of spare parts and components of Russian materiel in India, and support related technology transfers.

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