Prelims cum Mains Security Issues

U.S. wants India out of S-400 deal

The News

  • The United States is trying to discourage India from buying large defence systems from Russia, an action that might attract sanctions under CAATSA.


Key Highlights

  • India is planning to buy five S-400 Triumf air defence systems from Russia.
  • Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanction Act (CAATSA), a 2017 law, requires that countries that have significant defence cooperation with Russia be sanctioned by America.
  • Given US-India strategic ties the Trump administration has publicly expressed its desire to protect India from CAATSA.
  • Also the Secretary of Defence James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have urged lawmakers to make changes in the law so that partners such as India are not punished.
  • However, the efforts in this direction are being strongly resisted by Democratic lawmakers who want to put the administration on the mat on Russia relations.


India-Russia S-400 Triumf Air Defence Missile System deal

  • In 2016, India and Russia had signed an agreement on the ‘Triumf’ interceptor-based missile system.
  • S-400 Air Defence Missile System can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and even drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
  • S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
  • Earlier this year India concluded price negotiations with Russia for a nearly Rs 40,000 crore deal to procure S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the Indian Air Force.
  • India wants to procure the long-range missile systems to tighten its air defence along the nearly 4,000-km-long Sino-India border.
  • It must be noted that China was the first foreign buyer to seal a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014 to procure S-400 missile systems.


About S-400 Triumph Air Defence Missile System

  • The S-400 Triumph is an air defence missile system developed by Russia.
  • It was developed as an upgrade of the S-300 series of surface-to-air missile systems.
  • The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km.
  • The S-400 Triumph air defence system integrates multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control centre.
  • It is also capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.



CAATSA and India

  • Once the deal was signed, India and Russia were looking at ways to insulate the deal from the sanctions announced by the US against Russia under its Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
  • The U.S. had announced sanctions against Russia under the stringent law for its alleged meddling in the American presidential election in 2016.
  • CAATSA, which came into effect in January, mandates the Donald Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.
  • Given US-India strategic ties the Trump administration has publicly expressed its desire to protect India from CAATSA.
  • S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis last month appealed to the Congress to urgently provide India the national security waiver, saying imposing sanctions under CAATSA for the S-400 air defence missile deal would only hit the US.


India-US foundational agreements

  • Being a ‘Major Defence Partner’ of the US, it is imperative for India to sign the mandatory three foundational pacts which allows greater interoperability between critical technologies and smooth facilitation of classified information.
  • So far, India has signed only one of the foundational agreements, called the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA).
  • COMCASA and Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-spatial Cooperation (BECA) are the two remaining pacts that were not signed.
  • It was feared that signing these agreements would mean compromising India’s age-old military ties with Russia and access to their weaponry systems.
  • The opposition to signing these pacts is that despite these pacts, weapons sales from the US will remain subjected to various export control regimes.
  • Efforts are on India to sign the second defence foundational pact viz. Communications, Compatibility, Security Agreement (COMCASA).


About foundational agreements


  • It is a modified version of the Logistics Support Agreement (LSA).
  • It will enable access to each other’s military facilities for purposes of refuelling and replenishment.



  • Creates the conditions for the Indian military to receive modern secure and net-enabled weapons systems such as precision armament, air-to-air missiles, space systems and navigation systems that are critical components in platforms like fighter aircraft and unmanned aerial systems.
  • Hitherto India has had to purchase more expensive commercial communications equipment, raising the overall acquisition price of a platform.

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