India is looking to engage Japan in the joint manufacture of advanced fighter jets and state-of-the-art amphibious aircraft even as it wants to continue collaborating with trusted old partner Russia.
The Narendra Modi-led NDA government has also sought US technology for co-development of defence equipment, with the aim of the country achieving self-sufficiency in defence production the long run.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in Tokyo between 1 and 3 September where he is expected to sign a collaboration agreement that would allow India to produce parts of amphibious aircraft US-2, official sources said.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to convey Tokyo's decision to approve production of some parts for US-2 when he meets Modi next month. This will be the first such defence collaboration between Tokyo and New Delhi after Abe took over as Japan's prime minister.
India and Japan have been discussing the sale of US-2 aircraft for some time since Tokyo eased its rules for the sale of defence equipment and transfer of defence technology in the first major overhaul of a decades-long arms embargo.
The US-2 can take off and land at short distance, even on rough seas, and engage in search and rescue operations. Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force currently has five US-2s.
However, Japan's concerns over leakage of technology or transfers to third parties have been holding up a deal with India over the manufacture parts for the aircraft in India.
Besides, the joint production of fighter aircraft, the two countries are expected to push civil nuclear energy cooperation during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 1-3 September visit to Japan.
During the India-Japan annual summit, Modi will also call on Emperor Akihito.
The external affairs ministry said in a statement that India and Japan have a strategic and global partnership.
"The visit of the prime minister to Japan will further strengthen the bonds of friendship between India and Japan," the statement said.
Meanwhile, India is eyeing the fifth-generation fighter jets being jointly developed with Russia. The first batch of T-50 fifth-generation fighter aircraft are expected to be ready by 2016 and Russia's Sukhoi aircraft manufacturer will be signing another contract with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for producing the T-50s.
"Earlier it used to be licence production of Russian aircraft in India, but now it will be joint designing and production of a new combat aircraft," an official source stressed marking a new era in Indo-Russian military partnership.