Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, the US State Department approved the sale of integrated air defence weapon systems to India for $1.867 billion. New Delhi had already contracted to purchase five S-400 long-range air-defense missile systems from Russia in 2018.
Despite developing the country’s own ballistic air defence system, the Indian government had requested to buy an Integrated Air Defense Weapon System featuring the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS), which was approved by the US State Department on 10 February.
A group of Indian defence analysts hinted that the purchase of the American system could prove to be of major significance for India’s air defence, which is faced with consistent threats from Pakistan as well as China.
Rajiv Nayan, a defence analyst specializing in weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), said that despite India’s air and ballistic missile defence systems, a gap still exists despite the S-400s and the American system would bridge the gap in the Indian air defence system.
Earlier, it was reported in Indian media that a domestically-produced air defence program is complete and will be installed in Delhi in three to four years to secure the nation’s capital from both nuclear and conventional missiles.
Rahul Bhonsle, a former Indian Army Brigadier, said: “The procurement of the NASAMS was in the offing for some time now and essentially it appears to be for the national capital. This would imply that either the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Missile Defence system is seen as not reliable enough to cover Delhi or that this is being planned for other major metros, such as Mumbai.”
However, DRDO had claimed in the past, on several occasions, that the weapons system radars tracked one target among simultaneously incoming multiple targets in real-time and the missile locked on to it and intercepted the target with a high degree of accuracy.
The Indian government also voiced their appreciation that scientists in the past had developed the country’s advanced air defence missile system.
“India has been using defence imports as a tool for balancing relations with its strategic partners (the US and Russia). Yet this is an expensive proposition, especially when the defence budget is limited. Moreover, this is killing the domestic defence industry and works against the ‘Make in India’ (initiative) in defence,” Rahul Bhonsle, a defence analyst, told Sputnik.
Earlier, it was supposed that Russian S-400 air missile defence would secure the country from threats emanating from further away, while a domestically-developed defence system would have the objective of securing the safety of strategic assets in different parts of the country.
The delivery of S-400 systems will begin from 2021 and it is claimed that the Triumf missile can detect and destroy targets at an altitude ranging from 100 feet to 40,000 feet. The US government has been vehemently having opposed the procurement of Russian missile systems and even offered an American missile system to India in December 2019.
Defense Analyst Rajiv Nayan contradicts the speculation that purchasing American NASAMS, a network-centric short to medium-range, ground-based air defence system, is an attempt to balance defence ties with two world powers as India purchased over $15 billion military equipment in the last three years from Russia, while the US wasn’t able to conclude any arm sales during this period.
“No, it intends to meet the security requirements of the country. Due diligence is exercised before the purchase of weapons. Several factors ranging from technology transfers, price, and overall threat perception are taken into account,” Nayan told Sputnik.
With the continuous drop in military spending in the country’s overall budget, it is a matter of concern for the armed forces to distribute the allocations efficiently.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has allocated around $46 billion for capital procurement; however, it is not enough for the three services to purchase new equipment in 2020.
“An overlap of the two systems (India’s domestically-made system and America’s NASAMS) to cover Delhi extensively could be another reason, but the two may not be integrated seamlessly. So, what options the Ministry of Defence is envisaging is not clear at present,” Defense Analyst Bhonsle opines.
Source: SPUTNIK News