India and Russia have signed an accord on the basis of which Moscow will supply advanced S-400 air defence systems to the South Asian country.
Although the Russian Defence Ministry is yet to confirm the deal, Indian officials have said that the delivery will take place “as soon as possible”. According to sources close to the Indian Defence Ministry, officials of the two countries signed the contract at an international security forum in Moscow on Wednesday.
The S-400 is the latest and most advanced of the long-range surface-to-air missiles produced by Russia. Currently, the Russian forces operate the system. But, India and China will soon be the first foreign countries to operate it, as Moscow plans to supply the system to the two Asian powerhouses. India has already signed the contract for acquiring five S-400 battalions.
With more and more number of countries acquiring arms and ammunition, the dynamics of international arms market has changed in the increasingly militarised modern world. For so many years, the US and Russia have controlled the lucrative arms market. In its recently published annual report, Sweden-based global think-tank Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) has said that although America and Russia still occupy the first two positions, China has emerged as the world’s third top-most importer of military equipment.
SIPRI also said that as Asia-Pacific and Latin America are witnessing a spurt in territorial disputes in recent times, countries of these two regions have gone on a major military acquisition spree. As far as South Asia is concerned, Pakistan is the foremost receiver of Chinese military hardware, while other clients in the region are Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka and all these countries are neighbours of India. The scenario has prompted India to import modern arms from Israel, America and Russia.
Despite Beijing’s increasing military influence across the globe, India is yet to export full-fledged military systems and platforms to any third country. India, which currently earns a revenue of around USD 150 million per annum by exporting some critical military parts and components to third countries, is ranked 26th in the global military export index. The South Asian nuclear power that occupies the top spot as a major military importer is eager to reverse the current trend, as it wants to become a leading supplier of defence equipment in the coming years.
Although India has started designing and developing some of the most advanced weapons and platforms, it has been abided by some international treaties, like the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and the Wassenaar Arrangement, which regulate international arms transfers/export of dual-use technology. As a result, New Delhi is making an all-round effort to become a full member of all such multi-lateral export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and the Australia Group, to replace China as the third top military equipment exporting country in the coming years.