U.S pressure mounts on India to abandon S-400 deal and opt for inferior THAAD systems

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NEW DELHI – Following failed attempts to intimidate Turkey into buying Russian anti-aircraft systems, the United States is trying to dissuade another country from buying the S-400 missile system.

Washington has made a proposal to New Delhi to opt for American THAAD missile defense systems and Patriot missile system (PAC-3) instead of buying Russian S-400 systems, reports the Indian newspaper Hindustan Times .

If India moves forward with the purchase of the S-400 systems it could face US sanctions under a federal law of 2017 that imposed sanctions on Russia (as well as on North Korea and Iran) and prohibits any other nation from negotiating agreements with these countries. Moscow criticized this law and called it a declaration of a “total trade war”.

Last March, a Defense Department official said the US was working on an “alternative choice” for India.

The S-400 air defense system is considered one of the most advanced in the world. Several countries have already shown interest in buying it.

In October last year, Moscow and New Delhi signed a contract to sell this armament worth a total of $5.43 billion. Delivery of anti-aircraft systems to India is scheduled for October 2020

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Russia will also help India produce additional batches of the already proven T-90, the Kremlin reported amid reports that New Delhi is eyeing the purchase of nearly 500 battle tanks.

Moscow “is ready to extend the license [to mount the T-90] and increase production of T-90 tanks,” a spokesman for a government agency in charge of the arms trade said.

The Indian government, the official continued, “has decided to buy extra tanks for the national Armed Forces.”

Last Monday, it emerged that the Cabinet of India (CCS) Security Committee approved the $1.93 billion agreement to acquire 464 T-90MS battle tanks (MBTs), according to Jane’s Defense Weekly. In the coming months, defense ministries in India and Russia will sign a relevant contract, sources told the site.

The T-90MS is the latest upgrade to the T-90 family of classic tanks. Its maker, Uralvagonzavod, says the MS version has better protection, improved mobility and improved electronic systems. The most notable distinction is the extended tower of the tank, which provides storage for additional rounds and better protects the crew.

India is the largest foreign operator of the T-90, with 1,650 tanks estimated to be in military service since the early 2000s. Most of them were mounted at the Heavy Vehicle Plant (HVF) of India under Russian license.

New Delhi has relied on Soviet and Russian weapons for decades, whether small arms or fighter jets and naval vessels. Lately, India and Russia have signed a series of arms agreements covering a wide range of weapon systems.

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