India wants Russia to speed up the delivery schedule of the advanced S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems, which can detect, track and destroy hostile strategic bombers, jets, spy planes, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km, after having now paid the first instalment of around Rs 6,000 crore for them.
The faster delivery of the five squadrons of S-400, under the $5.43 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) deal inked in October 2018, will be discussed in the 19th India-Russia intergovernmental commission on military and military technical cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) to be held in Moscow on Wednesday, said sources.
India’s lease of a Akula-1 nuclear-powered attack submarine under the over $3 billion (Rs 21,000 crore) deal inked in March this year as well as a reciprocal military logistics pact will also be among the issues to figure in the delegation-level talks, which will be cochaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.
India has also sought an extension of INS Chakra’s lease till the Akula-1 submarine is ready for induction into the Indian Navy by 2025 or so. But the delivery schedule for the S-400 squadrons, originally slated from October 2020 to April 2023, will figure higher on the agenda, with Rajnath Singh even likely to visit the production facilities at St Petersburg on Thursday.
This comes after India and Russia recently worked out a payment mechanism to get around the US sanctions regime against acquisition of Russian weapon systems, as was earlier reported by TOI.
“The first instalment of 15% for the S-400 deal got delayed by several months. But it (Russia) has now been paid, with the remaining instalments being linked to deliveries. Russia has assured India that it will stick to the original delivery schedule. India, however, is trying to quicken it further,” said a source.
The IAF has described the acquisition of the five S-400 squadrons as well as the 36 Rafale fighters from France, under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked in September 2016, as “game-changing” for combat capabilities and warfare in the region.