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India turns to US to guard Delhi against air threats

The government has greenlighted the project, with the defence acquisition council according its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for the air defence system,

india Updated: Jul 31, 2018 07:06 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
India,US,Delhi
A MIM-104C (PAC-2) Patriot, a surface-to-air missile (SAM) system fires a missile during Han Kuang military drill in Pingtung, Taiwan on June 5. India is seeking to deploy the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II) .(REUTERS/Representative image)

India is in the process of opening talks with the United States for buying an advanced air defence system to protect parts of New Delhi from hostile aircraft and missiles, two persons familiar with the matter.

Likely to cost upwards of $1 billion, the National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II) that India is seeking to deploy can track and shoot down multiple aerial threats. The government has greenlighted the project, with the defence acquisition council according its acceptance of necessity (AoN) for the air defence system, said one of the persons cited above. The AoN is the first step towards buying a weapon or platform under India’s arms procurement rules.

Inching closer to deploy the system to stave off 9/11 type of attacks, India is likely to issue a Letter of Request (LoR) to the US government for taking the NASAMS-II project further, said the second official.

The LoR is a significant step as it formally kicks off the foreign military sales programme, Washington’s government-to-government method for selling US-built platforms. Once the LoR is issued, the US will respond with a Letter of Acceptance (LoA) to take the procurement forward.

Since 2008, India has bought or ordered military equipment worth $15 billion from the US, including C-130J special operations planes, C-17 transport aircraft, P-8I submarine hunter planes, Harpoon missiles, Apache and Chinook helicopters and M777 lightweight howitzers.

At $15 billion, military purchases from the US have consumed more than a fourth of India’s total capital expenditure for the last decade.

A report released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in March revealed that arms exports from the US to India jumped 557% in 2013-17 as compared to 2008-12, making it India’s second largest arms supplier after Russia.

Stating that the project to buy the air defence system was in the pipeline for long, strategic affairs expert, Air Vice-Marshal (retd)Kapil Kak said: “Together with the indigenous ballistic missile system, it (NASAMS-II) will provide us a formidable air defence system.”

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 07:06 IST