India’s defence ministry Thursday signed off on the purchase of 33 Russian fighter jets and upgrades to 59 others worth $2.4 billion, amid rising tensions with nuclear-armed neighbour China. India buys Russian jets in the wake of the humiliation at Ladakh, which has accelerated its plans to modernize its military.
The purchase of 21 MiG-29 and 12 SU-30 MKI, as well as upgrades to 59 existing MiG-29s, was to “augment” the Indian Air Force’s combat squadrons, the ministry of defence said.
New and additional missile systems to be manufactured in India were also commissioned for all three branches of the military.
India buys Russian jets to beef up defence capabilities
The beefing up of New Delhi’s defence capabilities was taken due to “the need to strengthen the armed forces to protect our borders and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for ‘Self-reliant India'”, the ministry added in a statement.
India’s relationship with China has worsened in recent weeks after a border clash on June 15 that left 20 Indian soldiers dead as well as an unknown number of Chinese casualties.
– HAL mission computers for ALL MiG-29s
– 21 "new" MiG-29s upgraded in Russia, existing lot in Nasik.
– Su-30MKI price includes a great deal of additional equipment and mods to sort longstanding fleetwide issues
– Astra-capable fighters now: Su-30MKI, MiG-29UPG/K/KUB https://t.co/tDAGWQ63b6
— Angad Singh (@zone5aviation) July 3, 2020
India in October received the first of 36 Rafale fighter jets ordered from France in 2016 as it sought to renew its ageing fleet.
The announcement followed Modi’s phone call with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, where he “warmly congratulated” the president after a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms that could allow him to extend his rule until 2036.
India: Russia’s biggest arms importer
Russia was New Delhi’s Cold War ally and remains India’s biggest armaments supplier.
In 2018, the two nations signed an accord for Moscow to supply its S-400 missile system in a deal worth $5.4 billion despite the threat of US sanctions.
The South Asian nation has become the world’s biggest arms importer as it modernises its military.
Rahul Bedi, a defence analyst, said the acquisition of the Russian aircraft will boost the air force’s depleted fighter squadron numbers, which have dropped from an approved total of 42 to 28. One squadron comprises 18 aircraft.
The 12 Su-30MKIs will be built under licence by India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bedi told The Associated Press news agency.
India buys Russian jets but won’t be able to court Russian help on China
Speaking to GlobalVillageSpace, Andrew Korybko gives his insights into how Russia is positioning itself in the conflict between China and India. As reports of the situation in Ladakh finally cooling emerge after the meeting between the foreign ministers of Russia, India and China, the role of Russia has been significantly questioned. He says that India can not expect Russian help because of a strategic shift in relations, and also makes predictions for the future of Russian diplomacy and the situation in South Asia.
Korybko analysed that Indian expectations from Russian involvement are a leftover from the Communist era. The political left in India has yet to realise that the Russia of today is majorly different from the Soviet regime.
That being said, Russia is playing a balancing act between China and India. China is Russia’s major partner in its trade of military equipment, energy; Russia also has significant trade relations with India. With India’s growing alignment with the United States, and Russia’s inability to de-escalate the tensions between China and India, it has become a steep road for the old super-power to take charge.
As @narendramodi goes to Ladakh amid #IndiaChinaFaceOff, strategic scholar @MohanCRaja says India needs to shore up old friends like Russia & reinvent new ones like the US. Watch this interview with me : https://t.co/miV4wVw9EA #ModiinLeh
— Jyoti Malhotra (@jomalhotra) July 3, 2020
The Russian Media has hitherto kept a neutral line, unlike its western counterparts which have unanimously bashed the Chinese actions along the Line of Actual Control. All these have underlying economic reasons, according to Korybko.
Watch Andrew Korybko, political analyst based in Russia, in discussion with Najma Minhas, Editor Global Village Space explain why Indian expectations from Russian involvement are a leftover from the Communist era. Why Modi is more likely to attack Nepal than Pakistan to divert Indian population’s anger over the BJP governments perceived weakness over China’s intrusion into Indian claimed territory:
GVS News Desk with additional input by AFP and other sources
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