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India, Russia to fast track joint military projects

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Minister of Defence and General of Army of Russia Sergei K. Shoigu and the Union Minister for Defence, Manohar Parrikar signing a Memorandum of Understanding, in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: PTI.

NEW DELHI (PTI): India and Russia on Wednesday decided to "fast track" the ongoing joint military projects including the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) deal as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar invited Russian companies to exploit the 'Make in India' initiative.

The two sides also decided to hold interactions at regular intervals to conform to project deadlines.

"We have discussed all the issues including the FGFA. We have decided to fast track many of the issues," Parrikar said after holding meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoygu.

Parrikar told reporters here that there were "some apprehension" about the slow pace in execution of the projects.

Both FGFA and Indo-Russia joint venture for building a Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA) is also delayed.

"And the first thing we have decided is that this slow speed has to be overtaken and a fast track approach has to be initiated in the arrangement", Parrikar said.

An official statement said both sides signed the "agreed protocol" but it did not specify what was the content.

However, official sources said this refers to the minutes of the meeting.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of an Agreement on exchange of Flight Safety Exchange Information.

Sources said this deals with exchange of flight safety information regarding the Russian planes operated by India.

Asked about his offer to the Russian defence firms to exploit 'Make in India' initiative of the new government, Parrikar said the country uses a substantial quantum of Russian equipment.

"We invited them to come to India with joint ventures and manufacture here including spare parts for various platforms we are already using...they (Russian side) were positive about it," he said.

Even though Defence officials remained tight lipped, sources said the issue of BRAHMOS-NG missile was also raised.

The Russian Minister visited the BrahMos Aerospace Hqs in the national capital after meeting Parrikar.

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