India is all set to order a fresh batch of 42 Sukhoi fighter aircraft from Russia in a bid to placate Russian anger flared over being purged from the ongoing MMRCA deal evaluation process.
The whole deal could go beyond USD 3.5 billion as the prices have already been increased by the Russian side and Indian Ministry of Defence officials are still asking Moscow to reduce.
Citing currency volatility, Russian Defence Ministry has said it can not bring down the price as India can afford top-end fighters at this stage with a renewed price since it can spend a whopping $10 billion for MMRCA.
Russian MiG-35 lost the MMRCA bidding process this summer after failing to compete against European fighter manufacturers French Dassault Aviation made Rafale and four nation consortium made Eurofighter.
“This has led to Russian anger as the whole development has surprised many law makers and officials in Moscow as how Russia lost the deal to Europeans that too in India which is a traditional stronghold for Russian arms exports,” said a Russian official in charge of Strategic Assessment Desk in Kremlin.
After losing the bid to Europeans, Russia made it clear to India it will withhold several projects and threatened to down grade the Indo-Russian military cooperation in many ongoing defence deals.
India is having two dozen military projects with Russia at the moment and a high profile FGFA project is under way to bring about new generation fighters that can match the capabilities of American F-22 by 2017.
On the top of it, Russia had also warned that it will withhold Brahmos source code and refused to allow the supersonic cruise missile to be fitted in any foreign platform without prior approval from Moscow.
The Russian arm twisting tactic has worked to a great extent and India after getting scared of the fallout sent its top officials and ministers to find a middle way that can satisfy both nations and resolve the issue amicably.
Earlier, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had also written a strongly worded letter to Indian Prime Minister about the unhappiness and Russian anger, and had cautioned that the West never shares technology.
Russians had also sought a clarification from New Delhi as under what circumstances MiG-35 was rejected and they wanted to know the selection process of the entire MMRCA deal.
To calm down the whole MMRCA effect, India has offered a green light to the Russians by going for additional SU-30 and perhaps given a favorable assurance over impending chopper and submarine deals.
With additional 42 SU-30s, India will have over 222 Sukhois in its fleet by 2020 and Indian government can buy a temporary truce with the Russians who are getting aggressive in Indian arms market.