Aviation

India, Russia to speed up military hardware upkeep

In a first-of-its-kind meeting, Russian military spares manufacturers are set to meet Indian industry for partnerships to produce equipment in India. The Ministry of Defence wants to improve the maintenance issues on fighter jets Sukhoi-30MKI, Mi-17 helicopters, T-90 tanks and the MiG 29K naval fighters.

About 70 per cent of military equipment with the Indian armed forces — the Army, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Navy — is of Russian origin. With Moscow continuing to be the largest supplier of military hardware, this scenario will not change for the next three decades.

Repairs and servicing of key equipment are hampered by lack of ready availability of spares. A rather circuitous route through a single agency in Moscow makes it lengthier.

The Russian Ministry of Defence had given permission and communicated to India in January about the companies or original equipment manufacturers that have been allowed to sell spares to India directly without seeking permission for each tranche.

Russia’s Minister for Industry and Trade DV Manturov will lead the delegation for a two-day meeting in New Delhi (March 17 and 18) wherein they will meet with Indian MoD official and trade captains. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will address the meeting. The matter has been discussed during the summit meeting between PM Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin at Goa in October.

Russian manufacturers of military equipment source key parts such as engines, avionics and weaponry from producers within Russia and sometimes even Ukraine to integrate them on planes or warships or tanks.

All military equipment by the very nature of it needs consumable parts which have “run-life” and need to be changed or overhauled after its specified life. For example, the Sukhoi-30 engine needs to be overhauled after a fixed number of hours — about 800-900 hours of flying.

The Sukhoi is serviced and maintained by public sector undertaking Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). There are four key suppliers. The Sukhoi has an availability rate of 65 per cent because of delay in spares. The IAF’s operated base repair depots maintain the fleet of Mi-17s.

Sources here say once this is done, the HAL, IAF, Navy and the Army can source spares from Russia, have long-term supply contracts and even maintain a small stock on items which have a fixed “run-life”.

By: Tribune India

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