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SOURCE: RAUNAK KUNDE / NEWS BEAT / IDRW.ORG

Once dubbed “abhorrently expensive”, India and Russia are again going to sit together to talk how to move forward on the proposed joint development of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) based on Sukhoi Su-57 during Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman upcoming visit to Moscow.

Highlights of Sitharaman’s visit to Russia will remain to seal final contract on the purchase of S-400 interceptor-based missile system, But High-level officials from both sides will also talk on stalled FGFA program on the sidelines of her visit said industrial sources close to idrw.org.

A high-level committee set up by the government to examine various aspects of the project had submitted its report last year and the defence ministry is likely to take a call on it soon. In 2007, India and Russia had inked an inter-governmental pact for the FGFA project.

In December 2010, India had agreed to pay USD 295 million (Rs 1,897 crore) towards the preliminary design of the fighter, which is called in India as the ‘Perspective Multi-role Fighter’. However, the negotiations faced various hurdles in the subsequent years.

In February 2016, India and Russia revived talks on the project after a clearance from the then defence minister Manohar Parrikar.

In the meantime, Russia has deputed Two Sukhoi Su-57s to a base inside Syria to undergo testing under combat conditions. Media speculation on Su-57s Syria deployment is largely seen as Russian way to test it against Western technologies.

Many in Indian media also believe that Su-57s Syria deployment is to showcase its stealth capabilities in an airspace crowded by Western Radars in the Air and Ground to the program critics in India.

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