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Russia’s missile sale to Indonesia upsets DRDO

Moscow’s decision to sell anti-ship cruise missiles to Indonesia without keeping Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace in the loop has left many red faces at DRDO, the equal Indian partner in the company.

Written by SHIV AROOR | New Delhi |
July 20, 2006 1:49:12 am

Moscow’s decision to sell anti-ship cruise missiles to Indonesia without keeping Indo-Russian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace in the loop has left many red faces at DRDO, the equal Indian partner in the company.

Apart from looking at Moscow’s proposed sale, as well as outside contractual bounds, DRDO is concerned that the sale would eat into the BrahMos missile’s market and therefore affect profits even before the missile has made its first sale abroad.

While the DRDO responded to a detailed questionnaire sent by The Indian Express by saying that its chief M Natarajan was ‘‘not going to Russia concerning the sale of any missile’’, top sources have confirmed that Natarajan is leaving for Moscow on July 19, and his agenda there includes sorting out this new disagreement.

When asked about Russia’s sale to Indonesia, and the fact that it was not being routed through BrahMos Aerospace as is stipulated in the terms and conditions of the joint venture, DRDO simply provided a definition of what BrahMos Aerospace does ‘‘concerned with the sale of BrahMos missile.’’

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Last month, Defence Secretary Shekhar Dutt first conveyed DRDO’s anxieties when he met Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov in Moscow. BrahMos Aerospace Managing Director and DRDO Chief Controller (missiles) A Sivathanu Pillai also made known India’s concerns to Russia’s Deputy Defence Minister Mikhail Dmitriyev. Pillai could not be reached for comment.

DRDO perceives Moscow’s move to sell Yakhont missiles — the prototype on which the BrahMos was developed — to be inexplicable, since the programme was specifically entered into to ‘‘deploy BrahMos missile system in the Indian and Russian armed forces and also to export to friendly countries.’’

Sources said Moscow has justified the sale by indicating that talks with Indonesia have been on for three years.

Late last month PM Manmohan Singh visited the BrahMos Aerospace complex in the Delhi cantonment and exhorted the missile’s ‘‘immense export potential’’, a visit where he also made it a point to call Russia a ‘‘traditional and trusted supplier of defence systems.’’

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First published on: 20-07-2006 at 01:49:12 am

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