NEW DELHI — In a major boost to India's "Make in India" drive, private-sector defense major Reliance Defence signed a manufacturing and maintenance deal with Russia's AlmazAntey Thursday in Moscow to jointly develop and maintain a variety of air defense and radar systems for the Indian defense forces.

"'The two firms (Reliance Defence and AlmazAntey) also discussed the joint implementation of modernization, repair and deep overhauls of AlmazAntey systems already in service with the Indian Armed Forces," read a statement by Reliance Defence, which is a subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure owned by billionaire Anil Ambani.

The deal coincides with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Thursday and Friday visit to Moscow.

Last week, Russia's Ministry of Defence cleared India's $4.5 billion purchase of five units of S-400 air defense systems.

A Reliance Defence executive wouldn't comment whether the manufacturing and maintenance arrangement with AlmazAntey also includes the S-400 systems. The executive did say the two companies have identified the air defense missile systems, including TOR-1M missile program, radars and automated control systems, as areas of partnership but refused to give details on the business model of the of new agreement.

Reliance Defence is a new private-sector defense company. Earlier this month, it received approval for 12 industrial licenses for manufacturing of aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), all-terrain combat vehicles (ATCV), night-vision devices, sensors, navigation and surveillance equipment, propulsion systems and simulators.

Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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