Following the recent fatal clash between Indian and Chinese troops at a contested part of the border between the two countries (the ‘Line of Actual Control’) in the mountainous Ladakh region, India’s Defence Ministry has approved the purchase of 33 Russian fighter aircraft, including 21 MiG 29s and 12 Su-30MKIs.
The Defence Ministry announced on Thursday that it has approved a proposal to acquire 33 new fighter aircraft including 12 Su-30MKIs and 21 MiG-29s, along with a program to upgrade 59 MiG-29s of the Indian Air Force.
“Addressing the long felt need of the Indian Air Force to increase its fighter squadrons, the DAC also approved the proposal for procurement of 21 MiG-29 along with upgradation of existing 59 MiG-29 aircraft and procurement of 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft,” the defence ministry said in a statement on Thursday after a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
The DAC also approved the acquisitions of various platforms and equipment required by the Indian Armed Forces, including 248 Astra Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles for the Indian Air Force and the Navy. The design and development of a new 1,000 kilometre strike range Land Attack Cruise Missile has also been cleared.
“Acquisition of new/additional missile systems will add to the fire power of three Services. While acquisition of Pinaka missile systems will enable raising additional regiments over and above the ones already inducted, addition of Long Range Land Attack Missile Systems having a firing range of 1000 Km to the existing arsenal will bolster the attack capabilities of the Navy and the Air Force. Similarly induction of Astra Missiles having Beyond Visual Range capability will serve as a force multiplier and immensely add to the strike capability of Navy and Air Force,” the statement said.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) continues to make additional preparations to deal with any possible military confrontation with the Chinese armed forces and its forward bases have been ordered to be on their highest state of alert. Apart from Sukhoi-30s and upgraded MiG-29 fighter jets, the IAF is operating Apache AH-64E attack helicopters and CH-47F (I) Chinook multi-mission helicopters.
Just as the IAF and the Indian Army have deployed their air defence systems in eastern Ladakh, China’s People’s Liberation Army and Air Force have activated several of their bases in both Xinjiang and the Tibet Autonomous Region. LINK
During the Cold War, India and the Soviet Union (USSR) had a strong strategic, military, economic and diplomatic relationship. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia continued its close relationship with India. Traditionally, the Indo-Russian strategic partnership has been built on five major components: politics, defence, civil nuclear energy, anti-terrorism co-operation and space. More recently a sixth element, the economic component, has grown in importance.
The latest purchase is part of an ambitious program of modernization of India’s armed forces which has seen it obtain advanced weapons and technology from many countries.
As the stand off with China in disputed border areas continues, Indian Prime Minister Nahendrah Modi visited the Ladakh region on Friday in a move interpreted by Indian media as intended to send a strategic message to China that India is determined to defend its borders as well as to boost the morale of India’s troops in the area and demonstrate the government’s appreciation of their efforts. Hindustan Times reported:
On a surprise visit to Ladakh in the midst of heightened tension between India and China, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday told soldiers that modernisation of the armed forces is a priority and that the spending on border infrastructure has almost tripled.
In an address to troops, Modi said India is manufacturing critical weapons and bringing modern technology from around the world for the armed forces as the government is paying lot of attention for their requirement. “If India is enhancing its powers on land, air and water, then it is for the welfare of mankind,” he said. LINK
Chinese media outlet Global Times reported of the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to the border area:
In response [to Modi’s statements], Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of China’s foreign ministry, said at Friday’s media briefing that China and India are engaging in dialogue on easing the situation through military and diplomatic channels, and neither side should take any action that may complicate the border situation.
Qian Feng, the director of the research department of the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the Global Times on Friday that Modi attempted to show that he was a “strongman” on national security issues to soften criticism against him and shift public attention from his government’s incompetence in the coronavirus response, and economic slowdown.
Modi could learn about the preparations and deployment of the frontline and make preparations for the next step, Qian said.
The move also served to show China and the international community that India is firm in its commitment to safeguard national sovereignty, although India is willing to ease the situation through a bilateral mechanism and dialogue, Qian said. LINK
Although the situation remains extremely tense, it appears that the senior leadership on both sides is attempting to calm the situation even as they continue to reinforce their military forces and infrastructure in border areas.
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