At a time when there is talk of Russia losing importance as India’s major defence supplier, and when Pakistan is eyeing armaments purchase from India’s old friend, PM Narendra Modi is all set to rebuild the defence relationship with its old ally. Seeking to strengthen ties with Russia amidst mounting tensions with Pakistan and to an extent even China, India is all set to expedite major multi-billion dollar defence deals. According to an article in “Russia & India Report”, the Narendra Modi government is looking to sign several key deals during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit next week.
The deals, if signed, would come at an opportune time, for not only would they seek to ‘pacify’ Russia after India’s growing closeness with US, but would also send a strong message to Pakistan and China on the country’s defence preparedness. According to the report, hectic negotiations are on between the two countries to make sure that some substantial defence deals can be signed during the bilateral meeting between PM Modi and Putin in Goa next weekend. Some of the most important deals currently under discussion are purchase of 5 S-400 ‘Triumf’ long-range air defence missile systems, Kamov-28 helicopters and upgradation of the Sukhoi 30-MKIs. Two other projects that may get an impetus are the joint production of Kamov-226 light choppers and the long pending joint development of the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA).
Watch file video: S-400 Triumf Hits Moving Targets in Dark
The S-400 deal, if it comes through, would be one of the biggest defence deals with Russia in recent years and will add a formidable punch to India’s strike capabilities. The nod to purchase the S-400 missile systems, was given by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar-led Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) last year. The Rs 40,000-crore deal will make India the second international buyer of the S-400 system after China. The S-400 missile system is widely said to be Russia’s answer to the F-35 fighter jet of US and has even rattled NATO countries. The S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems is capable of destroying missiles, drones and incoming hostile aircraft within a range of up to 400 km. The system can knock down flying targets including those equipped with stealth technologies. Various reports suggest that India plans is to deploy three S-400 missile systems in the west (read Pakistan) and two in the east read China).
According to “Russia & India Report”, the discussions to jointly develop the FGFA were suspended over differences on the percentage of work-share in the research and development content. But the prospective $6 billion deal is back on the negotiation table ahead of the Summit. The final deal may entail Russia making over 100 fighters in India. As far as the Kamov-226 choppers go, a deal was signed in December last year during PM Modi’s Russia visit, but progress on that front is required to push the contract forward.
On the Indian Navy front, two deals are in the works. Presently India has only one nuclear attack submarine, INS Chakra, and there are plans to lease an Akula-class submarine for about $1.5 billion from Russia. Additionally, in September during a two day meet of the JWG of the Military-Technical Cooperation, a proposal was submitted by Russia for supply India four multi-purpose frigates, that are equipped with weapons and sensors, including the BrahMos missile, says “Russia & India Report”. The proposal suggests that two of the frigates will be delivered by Russia to India, while the other two will be built in India.