New Delhi: India is all set to remain firm on its deal with Russia for the S-400 Triumf air defence system, even as Washington is pushing New Delhi to buy US interceptors and missiles, while selling armed drones and possibly offering F-35 fighter jets.
According to a PTI report Saturday, the Donald Trump administration has approved the sale of armed drones to India.
Top sources in the defence establishment said India will go ahead in the acquisition of the S-400 system, which can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km, for which the contract was signed in October 2018.
“It is a done deed,” an official source told ThePrint.
Asked if there was the possibility of India backing out of the deal, he said that was “always possible in all contracts” but any such decision would come with “severe consequences”.
A second government source told ThePrint that there is nothing “at the moment” when asked if India will go back on the deal.
“The Russians will be annoyed,” he said. “Remember that it is not just Russian fighters and air defence system we are talking here. In many fields such as in the nuclear sector, Russians are our only source. They are playing a big role in the nuclear submarine programme also. It will also affect the oil business and relations in other areas,” he added.
India is also closely monitoring the ongoing tussle between the US and Turkey, a NATO ally, which has also demonstrated its interest in the buying the S-400. The Americans have given Turkey an ultimatum on its proposed deal for the Russian S-400 system.
India is keenly aware the US may not grant it a waiver of CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) sanctions, which the Trump administration is determined to impose on countries that have defence interests with Russia.
Americans offer THAAD, F-35 jets
To sweeten its demand to abandon the Russian contract, the US offering the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system (THAAD) along with Patriot missiles as well as F-35 stealth fighters.
However, sources in the Indian Air Force said no formal offer had been made, nor has India formally shown any interest in the aircraft, which on paper would be cheaper than the Rafale jets Delhi is buying from France.
India is currently in the process of coming out with a formal tender (request for proposal) for 114 fighter jets. Incidentally, one of the contenders is US firm Lockheed Martin, which is now offering its F-21 single engine fighter aircraft.
The firm also manufactures the F-35 stealth fighters and is the only one in the world to have a single engine aircraft as well as a fifth generation fighter.
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