India has approved a plan to purchase five Russian-built S-400 Triumph defense systems, despite earlier warnings from the US against any military transaction with Russia.
India’s highest defense approval body – the Cabinet Committee on Security — approved the $5.43 billion program earlier this week.
The committee headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided on the program just days before Russian President Vladimir Putin pays a visit to the country for the 19th India-Russia summit on October 5.
The two sides are expected to sign a formal contract during Putin’s visit.
Regarding the plan, a top Ministry of Defense official said New Delhi has already “communicated our stand on the subject to Washington.”
India has earlier received warnings from Washington about buying Russian arms. Under its current rules against Moscow, Washington could impose sanctions on third countries should they transact with Russian defense or intelligence sectors.
A former financial adviser on defense acquisition for the India’s defense ministry, Amit Cowshish, however, said that “there is no reason for India to buckle under the US pressure to roll back procurement of hardware from Russia.”
“Apparently, the Indian defense establishment is convinced that S-400 Triumf system is ideally suited to fill a critical gap in our existing capabilities,” he said.
The Russian-built S-400 is capable of intercepting and destroying airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles) and can simultaneously engage up to six targets.
Cowshish also noted that New Delhi could not afford to distance itself from Moscow.
The US has serious concerns about India and any other country’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile systems, says a top Republican lawmaker.
Moscow and New Delhi signed an intergovernmental agreement on the sale of five S-400 units during 17th India-Russia summit back in October 2016 in Indian coastal region of Goa.
Russia will deliver the first missile system by the end of 2020.
In addition, India plans to seal a new 10-year framework deal with Russia to manufacture and upgrade at least a dozen types of Russian armament systems in the country, including fighters, artillery guns and rocket launcher systems.
The United States has recently imposed sanctions against the Chinese military for buying Russian-made missiles.