India’s domain-b business magazine reports that India and the Ukraine have agreed to frame an inter-governmental commission on military technical cooperation, after talks at AeroIndia 2009 in Bangalore. The result would be a broad set of umbrella agreements that would define key requirements like security, technology transfer, and support, opening the way to defense projects with Ukrainian firms. India already has a framework of this type in place with Russia, is reportedly negotiating one with France, and arguably needs one with the United States.
The Ukraine has a substantial defense industry left as a legacy from the Soviet Union, and some products like the BTR-3E1/3U have become export successes. India is certainly aware of the T-80UD “Al-Khalid” tank developed for Pakistan, whose rapid and successful fielding resulted in a rush effort to add T-90S tanks to the Indian Army’s fleet. The Ukraine needs more of those orders in order to modernize and maintain its defense industrial base, which is vital to the country’s continued security.
India has a different problem, which it shares with the Ukraine: sets of Soviet/Russian-made equipment that must be maintained and upgraded, despite poor cooperation from Russian firms. Reports indicate that Ukrainian expertise will be sought for programs aimed at modernizing Indian armor, MiG, Antonov, Tupolev and Ilyushin aircraft; and Mil and Kamov helicopters. Missiles, radars, and weapons cooperation are also reportedly under discussion.
It’s worthy of note that all of these potential areas are also areas of Israeli expertise, and Israeli cooperation with India has grown apace on that basis. What Israel lacks, and the Ukraine offers, is original manufacturing capabilities for Russian equipment designs, and for many of the associated parts that would be used as spares.