Business & Defence

India Unsure Of Russian Weapons To Meet Pak China Threats: US Media

Story Highlights
  • The INS Vikramaditya, India's lone aircraft carrier, was purchased from Russia in 2004. During the former Soviet Union and later for the Russian navy, the carrier was in service. The sea testing on India's first indigenous 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier are underway ahead of its expected induction next year.
  • India is looking into ways to avoid a major disruption in its supply of Russian-made weapons as a result of US sanctions imposed in the aftermath of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tightrope walk may become even more difficult as a result of the ongoing border standoff with China.

India is looking into ways to avoid a major disruption in its supply of Russian-made weapons as a result of US sanctions imposed in the aftermath of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tightrope walk may become even more difficult as a result of the ongoing border standoff with China.

Experts estimate that up to 60% of Indian defence equipment originates from Russia, putting New Delhi in a bind at a time when it is locked in a two-year standoff with China over a territorial dispute in eastern Ladakh, with tens of thousands of soldiers within gunshot distance. In 2020, a clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers resulted in the deaths of twenty Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers.

“The worst-case scenario for India would be if the US concludes that Russia poses a greater threat than it does China, justifying a strategic accommodation with China. To put it bluntly, give up Chinese dominance in Asia while protecting its European flank “In a recent blog post, Shyam Saran, India’s former foreign secretary, said.

Would China be an aggressor in disputed eastern Ladakh or Taiwan, following lessons from Ukraine?

Jitendra Nath Misra, a retired diplomat and distinguished fellow at the Jindal School of International Affairs, stated, “It’s highly conceivable they’ll do it.” After India abstained from voting on UN resolutions condemning Russian aggression in Ukraine, President Joe Biden spoke about outstanding concerns with India.

Modi has so far refrained from voting against Russia or condemning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the early 1990s, roughly 70% of Indian army weapons, 80% of air force systems, and 85% of naval platforms were made in the Soviet Union. India is diversifying its defence procurements and reducing its reliance on Russian armaments, purchasing more from the United States, Israel, France, and Italy.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia contributed for approximately 49 percent of India’s defence imports between 2016 and 20. France and Israel accounted for 18 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

According to Lt. Gen. D.S. Hooda, a former Indian military commander, India not only relies on Russian armaments, but also on Moscow for military upgrades and modernization as it works toward self-reliance in the defence sector.

“Russia is the only country that has lent India a nuclear submarine.” Will any other country rent a nuclear submarine to India?” Hooda had inquired.

“India’s navy has one aircraft carrier,” said Sushant Singh, a senior fellow at the Center for Policy Research. It’s a Russian phrase. The majority of India’s fighter planes and around 90% of its combat tanks are Russian.”

The former Soviet Union leased a Chakra-1, a Charlie-class nuclear missile submarine, to the Indian military for training in 1987. It was later replaced by the Chakra-2, a Soviet submarine.

In 2019, India agreed to lease a Russian Akula-1-class nuclear-powered assault submarine for ten years for $3 billion. By 2025, it is expected to be completed.

The INS Vikramaditya, India’s lone aircraft carrier, was purchased from Russia in 2004. During the former Soviet Union and later for the Russian navy, the carrier was in service. The sea testing on India’s first indigenous 40,000-tonne aircraft carrier are underway ahead of its expected induction next year.

India is also developing four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.

India’s air force now has about 410 Soviet and Russian fighters, which are a mix of imported and license-built aircraft. Submarines, tanks, helicopters, submarines, frigates, and missiles are among the Russian-made military equipment in India’s arsenal.

According to Misra, the US has showed little interest in transferring technology to India.

“I’d want to inquire of our American allies: What kind of defence technologies have you provided us with? The F-16 combat jet, renamed the F-21, is what the US is providing. From the Indian perspective, the F-16 is obsolete. We chose the Mig-21 in the 1960s because India was refused access to the F-104. We’re witnessing the same thing,” he explained.

“The United States is willing to exchange nuclear propulsion technology for submarines with Australia under the AUKUS agreement, but not with India,” he added, referring to the trilateral security treaty between the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

In September, Australia announced that it will cancel a multibillion-dollar contract to buy French diesel-electric submarines and instead purchase US nuclear-powered vessels as part of a new Indo-Pacific security arrangement under AUKUS.

During Donald Trump’s administration, the United States and India signed defence contracts worth more than $3 billion. Defense trade between the two countries has climbed from virtually nil in 2008 to $15 billion in 2019. Long-range marine patrol aircraft, C-130 transport aircraft, missiles, and drones were among the major US purchases by India.

The problem for India as the Ukraine conflict worsens is navigating international sanctions against Russia.

The deal with Russia for the S-400 missile system has put India at risk of US sanctions after the US ordered its allies not to buy Russian military hardware. The S-400 is a formidable surface-to-air defence system that India hopes would provide strategic deterrence to adversaries China and Pakistan.

In addressing China, New Delhi has sought backing from the United States and its allies, a common ground for the Indo-Pacific security alliance known as “the Quad,” which includes Australia and Japan.

S.C.S. Bangara, a retired naval admiral, traced the history of India’s procurement of Soviet armaments, saying the country began hunting for arms and ammunition following the 1962 war with China.

During the Cold War, the United States had a close relationship with China. He claimed that Pakistan’s role as a facilitator gave it a trump card that could be used to garner the US government’s full assistance in the event of an India-Pakistan conflict.

During India’s war with Pakistan in December 1971, which resulted in the establishment of Bangladesh, the US dispatched a task force in the Bay of Bengal in support of Pakistan, led by the USS Enterprise.

According to Bangara, India concluded a series of purchase deals with the Soviet Union in the mid-1960s that lasted for the next 40 years.

“It wasn’t always flawless, especially when the Soviet Union fell apart.” When the Union broke up into smaller states, the long chain of training facilities, as well as the supply chain of logistics, disintegrated,” he stated.

Even if India diversifies its defence acquisitions from the US, Israel, France, and other countries, Bangara estimates that it will take 20 years for India to be free of Russian supply and spares.

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