NEW DELHI: In a major boost to India’s defense modernization, New Delhi will get the first delivery of S-400 air defense missile systems from Russia in less than two years.
“The advance payment has been received and everything will be delivered in strict accordance with the schedule, within about 18-19 months,” Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told state-owned broadcaster Rossiya-1.
The S-400 is considered one of the best air defense systems in the world. India signed the $5.43 billion deal with Russia for the purchase of five of them late
last year. India is also investing heavily to upgrade its navy by building an indigenous, next-generation ballistic missile submarine: The S-5 Class.
Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu visited the Naval Science and Technological Laboratory in the city of Visakhapatnam on Aug. 28 and tweeted a picture of the prototype of the nuclear submarine.
Defense experts say while this new submarine will protect India’s nuclear arsenal, it also adds lethal value to its weaponry. The new submarines will join the existing nuclear-powered Arihant submarines, which are indigenously built.
“India’s defense forces are in a continuous modernization process, and it has a huge budget of $25 billion for that,” Laxman Kumar Behera, a defense expert at the New Delhi-based Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, told Arab News.
“The army, air force and navy are being upgraded at a fast pace. India is building its own nuclear submarine — it’s not clear how many — but the indigenously built submarine Arihant is already active,” he said.
“India faces two challenges: One from Pakistan and the other from China. New Delhi isn’t so concerned about Islamabad because it enjoys superiority over its neighbor in conventional warfare. The long-term challenge comes from China,” he added.
“Beijing is giving New Delhi a big challenge in the Indian Ocean, and is building and acquiring new assets. It’s building strategic ports around India, and this is the biggest challenge New Delhi faces today.”
Behera said modernizing the navy is a big challenge as India faces budget constraints. “Another challenge is to modernize the air force and have 30-40 combat squadron aircraft,” he added.
He said linking India’s defense modernization to the Kashmir dispute is “far-fetched,” adding: “India enjoys the support of the larger international community on its Kashmir policy, and it doesn’t need to worry about the security situation.”
He said: “India needs a strong and modern defense force to position itself for a larger geopolitical role in the future.”
This year, India allocated $61.96 billion for its defense budget, around the same as last year.