The central government is set to make two military purchases—upgrade of India’s Ilyushin transport aircraft fleet and acquisition of 150 new armoured vehicles, before defence minister Manohar Parrikar visits Moscow.
Parrikar’s visit to Moscow and St Petersburg and would set the agenda for PM Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in December.
Parrikar who will leave on 30 October may also discuss possible acquisition of two new Kilo class submarines for Indian Navy. At present, India has nine Kilo submarines under the Sindhughosh class.
The two submarines are to fill gaps as St Petersburg already has a line of advanced Kilo class submarines under production for Russian Navy.
A high-powered panel on acquisitions will clear the Rs 4,250-crore project for the IAF’s transport aircraft, IL 78 and 76. The upgrade will not only increase the aircrafts’ service life by 20 years, but also give them enhanced avionics.
Importantly, the upgrade will involve fitting new engines to six of IL 78 midair refuelers and increase their range and capability to carry additional fuel. The fleet is likely to be fitted with new PS 90 engines to increase the load carrying capability.
The other project likely to be cleared is the purchase of 150 BMP 2/2K armoured vehicles for Indian Army. The project worth Rs 950 crore will be executed in India by the Ordinance Factory Board on license from Russia.
The IAF has been worried about its midair refuelers with a contract to purchase new generation tankers from Airbus under the Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) project stuck for over two years on pricing issues.