Traditionally the Russians have been the major suppliers of defence platforms to India.
India and the US are slated to announce major defence deals when the two leaders Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the US President Donald Trump meet in New York City on the sidelines for the UNGA. Presently, India-US Defence trade has touched $18 billion, and the Indian orders have created thousands of jobs in the sector.
Traditionally the Russians have been the major suppliers of defence platforms to India. In fact 70 per cent of our defence imports were from Russia. However, the equations are changing now, says a military analyst.
Brig SK Chatterji (retd) says, “The signing of a slew of agreements including the foundational agreement for mutual logistics support, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA); Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA), and progress on Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) has cleared the way for major induction of state of the art American equipment. The process has been aided by the 2 + 2 dialogues and India being declared a major US defence partner.”
Currently, “India is in the process of importing 15 multi-mission heavy-lift CH 4 Chinook transport helicopters and also 22 AH 64E (I) Apache helicopters. The US-based Boeing Company has already delivered eight Apaches. Armed with Hellfire air-to-surface missiles, these helicopters will enhance our anti-tank capabilities. The US has also approved the sale of 24 Seahawk helicopters MH-60R. These helicopter platforms are capable of anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare,” Chatterji points out.
In the area of unmanned aerial vehicles, major progress is expected, the former officer says. Adding, India wants to acquire the Sea Guardian manufactured by General Atomics and it is the best in its class and will enhance our Navy’ surveillance reach substantially in the Indian Ocean.
The three services- Army, Navy and Air Force are working on buying ten each of these UAVs through the Foreign Military Sales route. There have been several rounds of discussions between the two sides before Modi left for the US.
The US-made Artillery in the Indian Army
According to Chatterji, India’s artillery modernisation was initiated with the contract for 145 M777 Ultra-Light Howitzers of US-based BAE Systems. A few of these have already been received. The Indian Army badly requires replacements for its small arms and would be importing American company SIG Sauer’s SiG 716 for the army’s fast track procurement of 72,000 new automatic rifles.
The mother of all deals, for 114 fighter aircraft is progressing. American companies, Boeing Company’s F/A-18 Block III Super Hornet and Lockheed Martin’s F-21 are in the fray, along with the French Rafale and a few more European and Russian models, he adds.
As has been reported by Financial Express Online, announcement related to the Lockheed Martin’s $ 2 billion 24 MH60R anti-submarine helicopters for the Indian Navy is expected.
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To counter Russia’s S-400 Triumf advanced air defence missile system which will be coming to India soon, the US administration has offered Raytheon’s National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II. This system will help Indian airspace against aerial threats.
Exercise Tiger Triumph
The two countries for the first time participate in a tri-service military exercise in November this year. This will be to demonstrate the close military to military relations the two countries have. The announcement for the exercise was made by the US President Donald Trump close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledging to further improve synergy between the two sides.
The US leader has also announced increased Space Cooperation with India.