India and Russia decided to terminate a bilateral defense program on 24 March according to a senior Russian official. This so-called Multi-Role Transport Aircraft (MTA) program was aimed at developing and producing a new medium-airlift military transport aircraft for the Indian and Russian air forces. Reports Russian news agency TASS.
TASS news agency quoted Russiaâ€™s Minister for Industry and Trade, Denis Manturov, saying that India and Russia failed to find a solution beneficial to both countries. â€œNot all projects yield results,â€ the minister said. â€œDuring the execution of the project, which lasted five years, we did not manage to find such a solution that would be beneficial for the two countries.â€
However, he also added that â€œthis does not mean that the relations have been broken off.â€ Manturov said Russia will move to other “more interesting projects” being carried out with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
Originally the program started with an Indo-Russian joint venture between Russiaâ€™s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and Indiaâ€™s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL). Both countries earmarked $300 million each for the first phase of the project. However, both sides were unable to agree on a detailed design of the new transport plane and the project stalled.
â€œThe MTA program is as good as dead, and a global tendering will take place,â€ an unnamed senior Indian Air Force official said in January 2016.Â Yet, while the recent announcement by Russiaâ€™s minister for trade and industry appears to bury the project for good, no Indian defense official has so far publicly confirmed the cancellation of the program. It is also unclear when a new tender will be issued and whether Russia will participate in it.
On a related issue, another Russian news agency Sputnik reported that India is planning to buy $1 Billion Anti-Tank Missiles from Israel. The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has circumvented conventional policy to ink a deal with Israeli state-owned Rafael Defense Company for thousands of new missiles.
The Ministry of Defense has officially “forwarded the deal to the Cabinet Committee of Security, which is likely to clear the same (deal)” in the week ending March 31, Defense News reported on Monday. “The deal could then be signed after next month,” the MoD said.
Sputnik mentioned, one of the key element of the deal involves transfer of intellectual property from Israel to India. Particularly, a clause in the contract allows India to gain access to the steps and procedures used to make the missiles in the event that the MoD exercises its option to create another 1,500 launcher systems and 30,000 missiles in the future.
The Spike missile was developed in Israel for land-to-land missile strikes against enemy tanks. It is considered a “fire-and-forget” munition, however some versions of the Strike missile can be user guided via a “fire, observe, and update” model.