Russia is losing ground in India, New Delhi wants more American weapons

This post was published in Gazeta. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


MOSCOW, (BM) – After the border conflict with China, New Delhi is likely to establish even closer military ties with the United States. India is also expected to work with Japan, Australia and other Washington allies.

American analysts are increasingly inclined to believe that in the face of an increasingly assertive and well-armed China, Indian politicians are probably considering further expanding military cooperation with the United States and American allies, who share their concerns about the growing power of Beijing, writes The Wall Street Journal.

“Gazeta.Ru” previously wrote that New Delhi will purchase weapons from Washington for almost $ 3 billion, including helicopters. Donald Trump himself spoke about this during his recent visit to India. Among the future American deliveries of weapons, military and special equipment are AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and MH-60 multi-purpose helicopters.

It is worth noting that the Pentagon gives India a special place in its new military strategy for the Indo-Pacific region. At the same time, New Delhi itself is increasingly looking towards the United States and Europe than Russia.

Recently, Russia has lost six arms tenders in a row in India, and many of these failures were due to inexplicable reasons.

Russian developments, such as Il-78MKI refueling aircraft, MiG-35 fighter jets, Mi-28NE and Mi-26T2 attack and transport helicopters, submarines, and a number of other weapons and military equipment, were inferior to foreign counterparts in various tenders and competitions.

Purchases of expensive American and European weapons (military transport aircraft S-130J, S-17A and C295W, patrol aircraft P-8I Poseidon, Rafale fighter jets, attack helicopters AH-64D Apache, transport helicopters CH-47 Chinook, etc.) India sought to demonstrate both the diversification of priorities in procurement policies and to place new emphasis in relations with Western countries.

Nevertheless, Russia remains one of the main players in the Indian arms market. Russian-Indian cooperation in the military-technical field totals about six decades.

Over the years of successful partnership, significant potential for cooperation in the field of military-technical cooperation with India has been developed. The main task today is to maintain Russia’s leading role in the Indian arms market and, in the future, to increase the level of strategic interaction that exists between countries even in the most sensitive areas.

As for the prospects for cooperation, Moscow is going to intensify the already existing tendency to move from a paradigm of relations exclusively “seller-buyer” to a more inclusive, industrial-technological model, which fully fits into the make-in-India national industry development program adopted by the Government of India. This was announced in early February before the opening of the 11th International Exhibition of Land and Naval Arms DEFEXPO INDIA 2020 in Lucknow, Deputy Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation Vladimir Drozhzhov.

According to him, also on the agenda are issues of improving the after-sales service of previously delivered equipment.

In September last year, on the sidelines of a bilateral meeting of the presidents in the city of Vladivostok, an intergovernmental agreement was signed that regulates the creation of joint Russian-Indian enterprises in the production of spare parts (spare parts, tools and accessories). In the development of this agreement, appropriate amendments are made to the legislation of the Russian Federation.

From the point of view of increasing the efficiency of after-sales services, Russia offers India to carry out it through a “one-stop-shop” system involving directly those MTC entities that are responsible for the production of certain types of equipment and can carry out their comprehensive after-sales service as quickly as possible.

Last year, India entered the top three Russian military-technical partners with a portfolio of orders in excess of $ 15 billion.

Over the past three years, contracts have been signed for the supply of the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system, construction of project 11356 frigates in Russia and India, and a contract has been signed to increase the licensed production of T-90S tanks.

The victory was won in the international tender for the supply and organization in India of the licensed production of Igla-S portable anti-aircraft missile systems, and a number of contracts for the supply of large quantities of missiles and ammunition for the military and ground forces were also under implementation. A draft program of Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation until 2030 was handed over to Indian partners.

In fact, Russia participated in the Make in India program long before it became a popular slogan. Over the years of cooperation with the help of Russia, India has successfully mastered the production and now produces dozens of items of high-tech models of military products. This applies to the licensed production of Su-30MKI aircraft and T-90S tanks, as well as the activities of the BrahMos joint organization, which has broad export prospects.

Great expectations are also placed on the joint venture created in India for the production of Ka-226T helicopters and Kalashnikov assault rifles of the modern 200 series. Russia is working with India to create surface ships of Project 11356 and equip them with modern weapons and special equipment.

The Indian side sent Russian proposals for joint work in the field of creating submarines with the VNEU of project 75I, suggesting a full cycle of technological partnership, as a result of which the Indian industry can master the production of an air-independent power plant.

As part of the upcoming tender, Russia offered India a Lada class submarine (export version of the Amur-1650 submarine) with an air-independent power plant. This diesel-electric submarine can be equipped with BrahMos complexes as well.

The execution of the contract for the supply of India S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system is being carried out, as a whole, on schedule. The start of delivery is planned to be completed before the end of 2021.

At the same time, military-technical cooperation between the United States and India continues to grow very rapidly. The United States seeks to transfer the maximum number of new technologies to India in order to bring New Delhi on a par with its closest allies. In addition, Pentagon officials no longer require India to obtain export licenses in case they acquire dual-use technologies from the United States.

In this regard, as previously wrote, Moscow should radically revise its cooperation with Pakistan.

Russia loses a lot in economic and military-political terms due to the fact that it is limiting itself in relations with Pakistan, and, above all, in the supply of weapons. This is often done to please a long-standing partner – India. But the situation in the world is changing, and Delhi is increasingly looking towards the United States and Europe, including in such a sensitive area as arms purchases.

For example, the potential Pakistani demand for purchases of Russian weapons and military equipment, according to experts of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST), is $ 8-9 billion.

Russia should achieve basic equality in relations with India, since Delhi does not limit its cooperation with the United States and France, which are suppliers of key weapons for the Pakistani air force and submarine fleet.

And in relations with Russia in New Delhi, they proceed from the a priori assumption about the inadmissibility (from the Indian point of view) of the development of Russian-Pakistani military-technical cooperation. Such asymmetry is unacceptable, and in this case we are talking about creating unequal conditions for Russia in the arms markets.

Especially these issues are becoming more relevant in the context of the aggravation of the situation on the Sino-Indian border. New Delhi and Beijing are sending troops into the zone of tension, and this despite the fact that both sides say that the situation in the region is under control.

Experts believe that the existing contradictions between the two nuclear powers make a military conflict quite possible. Both sides are downplaying the scale and nature of the tensions that run the risk of escalating into armed violence.

New Delhi will not allow “country pride to be wounded” due to disagreements on the disputed stretch of the border between India and China.

We are talking about the Aksaychin region, located on the border of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of the PRC, Pakistan and India. The territory is ruled by China, but disputed by India, which includes this region in the union territory of Ladakh.

Aksaychin (literally translated from the Uyghur language as “the white Chin ravine”) is a vast alpine salt desert located at an altitude of up to 5 thousand meters. Geographically, it is part of the Tibetan plateau. There are practically no local residents in the region, as well as permanent settlements.

In turn, Zhao Lijian, the spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said that Beijing intends to follow its bilateral obligations, but “is committed to protecting national territorial sovereignty and security, as well as maintaining peace and stability in the border zone between China and India.”

These comments were made against the backdrop of reports last month about sporadic, yet unarmed clashes, in at least four places – Pangong, Galvan, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.

Officials from Beijing and New Delhi have provided very little detail about these incidents, but media from both sides continue to report that tensions remain high.


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