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Russia has granted permission to local defense companies to establish partnerships with Indian defense companies to supply, service and jointly manufacture spares for use by Indian defense forces.
So far, Russian Rosoboronexport is the sole contractor for spares for a variety of Russian defense platforms and weapons in use by the Indian defense forces, which as been the case for the last five decades.
Indian defense companies are not permitted to tie up directly with Russian manufacturing companies for the supply of additional spares, and subsystems and all contracts are routed through Rosoboronexport. “Supply of spares on time and on ‘right price’ has been the main problem with Russian systems, and overall problems of spares is critical,” a top Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) official said.
According to defensenews.com, the Indian Navy is still coping with issues in the procurement of critical spare parts for its Russian submarines, warships and aircraft carriers, missiles, electronic warfare control systems, radar communication tools, and navigation systems.
Shyam Kumar Singh, a retired Indian Navy captain, said: “All sales of military equipment and spares were only through Rosoboronexport. It made the items expensive”.
“The lack of standardization, high cost and variable quality has been the main problem with Russian spares,” Vivek Rae, MoD’s former director general for defense acquisition explained.
India has been negotiating with Russia for a long time to allow direct ties between the suppliers of spares in Russia and Indian companies. “But Rosoboronexport was always reluctant to transfer technology of making spares,” Rae added.
However, Bharat Karnad, a professor of national security studies at the Centre for Policy Research, said that “the Indian armed services/MoD/Department of Defence Production have failed to bring their spares requirements in sync with the Soviet/Russian stores’ indenting and production processes.”
Since the early 1960s, India is estimated to have acquired military equipment worth billions of dollars from Moscow, which now provides for more than 60 percent of the equipment inventory. But the current serviceability state of this equipment, particularly those with the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Navy, is less than 50 percent because of a lack of spares.
The problem is particularly acute in the case of the Sukhoi Su-30 fighter aircraft, which is made under license here by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. More than 200 Su-30 fighters are already in service with the IAF. In addition, the IAF and Army Mi-series helicopter fleet also faces a shortage of spares.
Suggesting ways to improve the supply of spares, an IAF official said: “Long-term supply agreements and long-term repair agreements with (Russian) original equipment manufacturers is the solution.”
And the top MoD official offered: “Mandatory spares should be procured for at least two-year requirements except life-critical consumables.”