India may sign an agreement or lease a second nuclear submarine 'Nerpa' during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Moscow next month.
However, it may hold back on buying the S-400 anti-missile system and the fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA). These were some of the topics that came up for discussion at the India-Russia Intergovernmental Commission for Military-Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-MTC) which concluded in Moscow earlier this week.
Even though the India ministry of defence did not divulge any detail about the IRIGC-MTC it is believed that India held off on a plan to to buy the S-400 Triumf ballistic missile defence (BMD) system due to its high cost.
Retired Air Marshal PK Barbora told Defenseworld.net that an Indian delegation was given a demonstration of the S-400 back in the in the early-2000s, when he was air attaché at the Indian embassy in Moscow. At that time too, the Russians wanted to sell the system to India. They had hinted that to secure New Delhi, the country will require one unit of the BMD. That was to cost then $ 700 million.
And, on closer examination the Indian delegation had found that actually just to secure Delhi, five systems would be required costing at that time $ 3.5 billion.
The present cost of the programme will obviously more prohibitive. Plus, the prudence of inducting such a system can also be questioned. For no BMD system can be foolproof. And the induction of such systems can lead to a nuclear arms race because to ensure ‘first strike ‘ capacity, a country like Pakistan will require to produce larger and more sophisticated nuclear missiles.
The defence ministerial meeting held last week in Moscow reportedly concluded negotiations for acquisition of a second ‘Nepra’ SSN – talks been in the works for quite some time now.
There has been some bad news for the country in case of the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft programme also. For sources say, that it is unlikely India will jointly produce the T-50 – with additional India-specific features. The country will possibly buy the aircraft off-the-shelf.
A final view on all these issues will obviously be taken in New Delhi and Moscow in the next few weeks, before Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits Russia at the end of the month.