NEW DELHI: Russia on Friday said it has started production of S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile systems for India and all the five units will be delivered by 2025.
Russian Deputy Chief of Mission Roman Babushkin also said that a contract will shortly be finalised for joint production of Kamov light weight multi-role military helicopters for India.
At a joint press conference with Russian Ambassador Nikolai Kudashev, he also said that Indian Armed forces will receive the first batch of 5,000 Kalashnikov rifles this year which will be produced in India under a joint venture.
Babushkin said Russia and India have “successfully found solutions” to the payment issues and the focus this year will be to implement mega deals in the defence sector.
“The supply of five S-400 air defence systems will be completed by 2025. Their production has already started,” he said without elaborating.
In October 2018, India signed a USD 5 billion deal to buy the air defence missile systems notwithstanding warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
Last year, India made the first tranche of payment of around USD 800 million to Russia for the missile systems.
Asserting that the S-400 air defence missile systems are among best in the world, he said they will significantly bolster India’s air defence mechanism.
The ‘Triumf’ interceptor-based missile system can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km. S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
The US had imposed sanctions on Russia under the stringent Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The law also provides for punitive action against countries purchasing defence hardware from Russia.
On the long-pending joint-venture for production of Kamov military helicopters, he said a deal on it will be inked shortly.
In October 2016, India and Russia finalised a broad agreement for the joint venture between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) and two Russian defence majors for production of Kamov helicopters.
India is procuring 200 Kamov Ka-226T choppers to replace its ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters.
Babushkin said while 60 choppers will be supplied to India from Russia 140 will be produced in India.
“This year, we will put special focus on implementation of decisions taken at Vladivistok,” he said.
Last September, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin held annual summit talks during which they decided to further ramp up defence and strategic cooperation besides resolving to expedite pending projects.
On the DefExpo being held in Lucknow next month, Babushkin said a 50-member Russian delegation to be led by the country’s Trade Minister will attend it.
“Russia will be the largest foreign country to be present at the DefExpo. We are expecting new agreements between the two countries during the event,” he said.
The senior diplomat said India and Russia were also looking forward to an early implementation of the intergovernmental agreement for joint production of military hardware.
Russia has been one of India’s key major suppliers of arms and ammunition. However, it has been a long-standing grievance of armed forces that supply of critical spares and equipment from Russia takes a long time affecting maintenance of military systems procured from that country. (AGENCIES)