In yet another major boost to her defense capabilities, India has signed a $500 million contract with Russia to build two stealth frigates in Goa that are expected to be delivered by 2027. A government official, however, pointed out that this deal will eventually cost a lot more than $500 million. He said, “the $500 million is for the foreign content in the vessels including material, design and specialist assistance. The frigates will cost more factoring in the indigenous content. That cost is being worked out.”
Russia’s state run arms exporter Rosoboron export and India’s Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) entered into the contract to build the Grigorovich-class ‘Project 1135.6’ frigates, along with technology transfer from Russia which happens to be India’s biggest arms supplier. This deal comes few weeks after another deal worth around $1 billion between the countries to import other such warships from Russia which will be built at the Yantar Shipyard in Kaliningrad. These warships are expected to be delivered by 2022-23. Highlighting the significance of this deal, former Navy chief, Admiral Arun Prakash said, “the best thing is the navy will now have 10 warships in the same class. That’s rare. These ships have proved to be reliable, have good weapons and sensors and new ones will further sharpen our capabilities.”
This assumes that much more significance given that it has come up a little more than a month after the India and Russia signed the $ 5 billion S-400 Air defense system deal. The sophisticated defense system is seen as world’s best operational long-range surface-to-air missile. Most of the analysts believe that the system at this point of time is unrivaled on earth. This was seen as a shot in the arm for India’s defense preparedness. Now, that India has signed yet another major deal with Russia which goes on to show that co-operation between these two countries in this sector has touched a new high.
The Indian Navy has been constantly strengthened in the recent past on account of a couple of defense deals that are already in the pipeline and the major achievement of INS Arihant that officially made India a country capable of Nuclear triad which means the capability to fire nuclear weapon from land, air and sea. Apart from this, recently it was reported that India is likely to buy 24 MH-60 helicopters in a government to government deal from the United States for the Indian Navy. These helicopters will be manufactured by the Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of US major Lockheed Martin. The crucial defense deal came into picture after the US exempted India from Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) in S-400 anti-aircraft defense system and Iranian oil purchase. The helicopters are expected to be delivered in 2020-2024 time-frame.
Last month, India entered another major defense deal in the ongoing defence modernisation programme. India and Israel signed $777 million defense deal wherein Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it has bagged a contract from India for the supply of long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) defence systems to the Indian Navy. As per reports, seven Indian Naval warships are going to be equipped with this system. With these back to back defense deals, Indian Navy is being bolstered into a force to reckon with. This is critical in view of threats that India faces and the need to secure a strong position in the Indian Ocean region.
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