U.S. military deals not enough to wean India off Russian arms yet

  • India’s multi-billion-dollar purchases of U.S. arms are less about shifting its reliance on Russian defence equipment and moving towards the West – it’s more about developing its own domestic weapons industry, security officials and analysts say.
  • India is the world’s biggest arms importer but almost all of its major weapons purchases now include provisions for joint manufacture or technology transfer, irrespective of which country it is dealing with.
  • Also, Russia’s war in Ukraine has disrupted some military supplies to India, reinforcing New Delhi’s long-term desire to diversify imports or replace them with home-built hardware, Indian defence officials said.
  • “It is a reality, that we have to reduce dependence on Russia,” said a senior Indian defence officer working on future capabilities of the Indian military, who declined to be identified. “But that is part two. The part one is the effort to get out of the import business.”
  • India announced significant purchases of U.S. defence equipment during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state visit to Washington last month, including an over onebn dollar order for GE engines for fighter jets. A possible USD3bn deal for MQ-9B SeaGuardian drones is also being discussed.
  • In line with New Delhi’s desire for self-reliance in defence and Modi’s flagship “Make in India” policy, the jet engine deal includes joint manufacturing in the future, while the assembly and maintenance of the SeaGuardians will likely be in India.
  • Eric Garcetti, the U.S. ambassador to India, said Washington had earlier paid “lip service” but was now easing India’s access to military technologies. He said the U.S. was “leaning in with technology” sharing more with India than it had with some its closest allies.
  • However, the moves so far will not be sufficient to end New Delhi’s reliance on Russia while stringent U.S. rules governing the sharing of military technology limit future possibilities for now.
  • “Nobody gives you everything. They keep you at least a screwdriver away from having it fully,” said a second senior official from India’s defence ministry, who also spoke on condition of anonymity.

External Link : https://www.reuters.com/world/us-military-deals-not-enough-wean-india-off-russian-arms-yet-2023-07-10/