An agreement between Russia and India on the joint development of a new fifth-generation fighter aircraft has been abandoned due to a decision by India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) to withdraw from the project, reported the Indian daily newspaper The Economic Times, citing sources who participated in the negotiations. According to the publication, DRDO explained its decision by saying it either already has, or is in the process of developing indigenously, all the technologies India would need to complete such a project.
The agreements related to the PAK-FA project, for which the Sukhoi Company (formerly the Sukhoi Design Bureau) is developing a Russian Su-57 fifth-generation jet fighter. In October 2017, Rosoboronexport confirmed the joint development of the fifth-generation fighter with India.
India has already paid Russia $295 million for preliminary work on the project. The cancellation of the transaction means that this money went "down the drain," one Indian official told the newspaper. The value of the agreement itself is estimated at $9 billion. Earlier, the total cost of the program was estimated to be $10 billion.
New Delhi told Moscow that it would not participate in the development of the project but would consider the possible purchase of fighters in the future, if necessary, said The Economic Times. The agreement between the two countries envisaged the creation of a fighter specifically for India with the delivery of four of its prototypes by 2019-2020, the newspaper said. The publication notes that Russia also offered to let India buy 20 MiG-29 fighters, but no decision has yet been made on this proposal.
This is not the first media report regarding problems in this agreement. In October 2017, the US portal Defense News, citing a report by the Indian Air Force Command, related that the Indian authorities were ready to abandon the project due to dissatisfaction with the level of development of Russian technology. Rosoboronexport denied these reports.
In April 2018, Jane's Defence Weekly, referring to its own sources, reported that India had suspended participation in the program and had notified Russia of this development. The publication claimed that New Delhi considered the project to be very expensive and was concerned that the Su-57 fighters did not meet its requirements for low-visibility, avionics, radar and sensors. Victor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy for Rostec, informed RBC that Russia has no information regarding India's withdrawal from the project.