- Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in New Delhi in for the annual summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
- Discussions are still under way between the two sides to conclude a final deal for 200 Kamov-226T utility helicopters.
- However, the big focus is on the proposed ₹39,000-crore deal for five S-400 air defence systems as the prospect of U.S. sanctions looms large with U.S. officials warning against it.
- Kamov is a small, twin engine Russian utility helicopter.
- This light multipurpose helicopter has a maximum takeoff weight of 3.6 tons and a maximum speed 220 Km/hr.
- It can carry up to one ton payload.
- The machine has excellent maneuverability and handling, easy maintenance
About Kamov deal
- India and Russia have signed a deal to jointly produce 200 Kamov Ka-226T helicopters, at the India Russia Summit in Goa. The helicopters are expected to boost the capabilities of the armed forces.
- Kamov 226T will replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak choppers
- Under the deal, 60 helicopters will be imported from Russia and at least another 140 will be built in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) with technology transfer.
- As part of this, a joint venture was set up in India which will build the helicopters.
- An S-400 ‘Triumf’ long-range air defence missile system is one of the most advanced long-range defence systems in the world.
- It is referred to as SA-21 Growler by NATO. It has been in service in Russia since 2007.
- It is capable of firing three types of missiles. Thus, it creates a layered defence, and simultaneously engaging 36 targets.
- The S-400 uses four different types of missiles and can track and shoot down incoming objects as far away as 400 kilometres, while it also has shorter-range missiles to track and shoot down objects that are closer.
About S-400 deal
- In October 2016, India and Russia concluded IGA for five S-400 systems and four stealth frigates after which the negotiations began to conclude a commercial contract.
- But there has been mounting concerns in India over US sanctions against Russian defence majors export as billions of dollars of military purchases may be impacted because of punitive measure.
- The US had announced sanctions against Russia under CAATSA for its alleged meddling in presidential election in 2016
- The five S-400 systems will be operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
S-400: a major point of friction
- With the friction in relations between the U.S. and Russia, the S-400 has become a major point of friction.
- Several countries, including some U.S. allies, have expressed interest or are acquiring the system and Washington has threatened them with sanctions.
- In September 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on some entities and individuals in China as it recently acquired Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 systems.
- In December 2017, Turkey signed a deal to acquire these systems; in October 2017 Saudi Arabia signed a memo of intent to acquire the S-400 and talks are on to finalise the deal.
- Interestingly, Saudi Arabia has threatened Qatar with military action if it moves to acquire the same system.
- According to the portal military today, the S-400 has been exported to Algeria as well.
Why does it matter?
- The acquisition of S-400 by countries such as India and Turkey has taken centre stage in the American diplomacy regarding Russia.
- Upfront, the recent sanctions against Russian entities, especially its military manufacturers and suppliers, mean any country buying the system may run into trouble.
- Besides, the U.S. has singled out the acquisition of S-400, telling potential customers such as India and Turkey that it is opposed to the move.
- It believes that S-400 could access sensitive U.S. military technologies in service with the potential buyers.
- Congressman Mac Thornberry, Chairman of the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, during a recent visit to New Delhi, said: “There is lot of concern in the U.S. over the S-400 system. There is concern that any country, and not just India, that chooses to acquire the system will make it harder to have the level of interoperability we want to have.”