March 18, 2011:
India and Russia are once more feuding over the cost of Russian upgrades. India wants to modify its Russian made Su-30 fighters to carry the Indian made 2.5 ton BrahMos missile. While India would not release numbers, it appears that the Russian manufacturer wanted much more money to do the job than an Indian military aviation company. When the Indians told the Russians that the Indian company would get the job, the Russians said this would be illegal, because it would violate a technology transfer clause in the Su-30 sales contract. The Indians called this nonsense, and simply another example of Russian price gouging. This is not the first time the Russians have done this, and not just with aircraft. The Indians are not amused.
For example, last year, India agreed, after five years of haggling, to pay Russia an additional $1.3 billion to have the Russian aircraft carrier Gorshkov refurbished to Indian specifications. The original deal was for about a billion dollars. But once the Russians got to work, things got complicated, and out of control. The Indians were not happy with the cost increase.
Because of these problems, India is increasingly turning to Western suppliers. Israel, in particular, has received a lot of Indian business in the last decade. More Western firms are now competing for Indian business, as it's clear that Russia no longer has a lock on these deals. During the Cold War, Russia got most of India's arms import business. The Russian stuff was cheaper than Western models, and good enough to deal with the primary foe (Pakistan.) But now the major threat is from China, and the Chinese have bought or stolen most Russian military technology, and even improved on some of it. So India is looking for better weapons, and more straightforward business practices.