Reliance Defence, an Anil Ambani Group company,  said on Thursday it had signed a $6 billion deal with Russia's Almaz-Antey, whose air defence system is likely to be bought by the Indian defence forces.

The deal announcement comes even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on a visit to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin to strengthen bilateral and defence ties with the country.

"The two sides identified the air defence missile systems.... radars and automated control systems as areas of partnership.... as well as offset policies of the Indian Ministry of Defence," Reliance said in a statement, reports Reuters.

The 16th annual India-Russia summit began underway in the Kremlin on Thursday between Narendra Modi and Vladimir Putin, reports IANS. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said it is a "restricted meeting".

"From inside the Kremlin! PM @narendramodi & President Putin begin the 16th Annual Summit with a restricted meeting," external affairs ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup tweeted.

Reliance Infrastructure, which took management control of Pipavav Defence recently, wants to be a big player in the defence equipment sector in India, with reports saying it has applied for additional 16 defence industry licences.

Defence equipment has emerged as a lucrative and fast-growing sector for Indian companies, with the Modi government aligning its "Make in India" programme to indigeneous manufacture of defence equipment and thereby dependence on imports, besides exporting defence items.

The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) issued 81 industrial licences to 61 companies between September 2014 and October 2015 to make various defence items ever since "Make in India" programme was launched in in September 2014, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, 8 December.

The companies that have received licences for defence manufacture include Reliance Aerospace Technologies, Mahindra Telephonics Integrated Systems, Ashok Leyland Defence Systems, Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering Company, Tata Advanced Material, Bharat Forge, Titagarh Wagons, Tech Mahindra, Tata Motors and Taneja Aerospace and Aviation.

Defence exports too have gone up during the Modi government's tenure.

The success on the export front is evident from the numbers provided by the government on 11 December, 2015. While the full year exports stood at Rs 686.27 crore in 2013-14, the figure for the first half of the current fiscal was Rs 695.70 crore.