by Dinakar Peri
India and Russia could be just weeks away from signing one of the biggest defence deals between the two sides in recent history, said two senior defence sources this week.
The contract negotiations for the purchase of the S-400 Triumf long range air defence systems are in the final stages, and are expected to be closed by March 31.
India is planning to buy five systems that is expected to cost about ₹39,000 crore and is considered one of the most potent Surface to Air missile systems in the world. It can track and shoot down a range of incoming airborne targets at ranges of upto 400 km.
“We expect to conclude the S-400 contract within this financial year,” a defence source said.
In 2016, the two countries had concluded the Inter-Governmental Agreements for five S-400 systems and four stealth frigates after which the contract negotiations began to conclude a commercial contract.
Another defence official said they expect to wind up the cost negotiations within the next 10 days.
Officials termed the negotiations as “very complex” as there were thousands of pages of documentation to be discussed. Russia has already conveyed to India that the deal should not have any offset clause as it is a strategic system.
For India, deploying the S-400 means that Pakistani aircraft can be tracked even when they are flying in their airspace. This will significantly beef up India’s alert levels in securing the country’s air space. The systems will be operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
China which has signed a $3 billion deal for six S-400 systems in 2014 has begun taking delivery of them. In December 2017, Turkey signed an agreement for two systems.