NEW DELHI: The Defence Ministry on Thursday gave its approval for the Indian Air Force to speedily procure 21 MiG-29 fighter jets besides 12 Sukhoi MK1 from Russia – a key development that comes in the middle of a almost two-month long military standoff with China.

The Defence Ministry’s Defence Acquisition Council also gave its nod for the upgradation of existing 59 MiG-29 aircrafts, a statement from the ministry said.

The nod for the two came as Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Russian president Vladmir Putin on Thursday. Putin reiterated his commitment to “further strengthen the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between the two countries in all spheres,” an Indian foreign ministry statement said.

“While the MIG 29 procurement and upgradation from Russia is estimated to cost 7,418 crors, the Su-30 MKI will be procured from (HAL) Hindustan Aeronautics Limited at an estimated cost of 10,730 crore,” the statement added.

India’s greenlight for the 33 aircraft comes a week after Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited Moscow for talks with senior government figures there. Singh had then told reporters that he had been assured that Russia would expedite the delivery of weapon systems and spares required by the Indian armed forces in the wake of the military faceoff with China. The visit had also taken place amid some news reports that China had been putting pressure on Russia not to supply spares and equipment to India.

Defence Ministry also cleared the acquisition of 248 Astra Beyond Visual Range air to air missiles for the Indian Air Force and the Navy. Design and development of a new 1,000 kilometre strike range Land Attack Cruise Missile by DRDo has also been cleared, said officials.

Defence Acquisition Council also cleared proposals worth 38,900 crore of which acquisitions worth 31,130Cr would be from Indian industry. The projects cleared include ammunition for Pinaka rocket launchers, BMP combat vehicle upgrades and software defined radios for Army, the officials further said.

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