Russia, India Deepen Friendship Over Missiles and Submarines

  • Commercial details discussed at New Delhi ministers’ meeting
  • Moscow will supply New Delhi with S-400 missiles in 4 years

India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, right, smiles while talking with Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Oct. 16, 2016.

Photographer: Prakash Singh/AFP via Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin have sought to correct a decade-long decline in their defense ties, reestablishing Moscow as New Delhi’s closest military partner.

Putin and Modi on Oct. 15 inked four big ticket defense deals worth over $10 billion when they met in Goa earlier this month.

Under the deals -- the commercial details of which were discussed on Wednesday in a closed door meeting between their defense ministers, according to India’s defense ministry -- Moscow will supply India with S-400 Triumf air defense missiles that Russia has previously exported only to China.

It will also deliver four Admiral Grigorovich-class warships and build military helicopters through a joint venture in India.

Minister of Defence Manohar Parrikar met with Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu in New Delhi, co-chairing an annual meeting of the Inter-Governmental Commission on Military-Technical Cooperation.

The two discussed joint projects such as the fifth generation fighter aircraft and the upgrading of the Sukhoi combat plane in the Indian Air Force’s inventory. They also dealt with the establishment of agreements and joint ventures signed on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Goa, including the frigates and military helicopters.

"Russia is India’s time tested and closest partner and it will continue to remain our primary defense partner," Parrikar told the meeting on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Defence.

If the cost negotiations for the S-400 missiles are completed within a year and the commercial deal is signed, they could be delivered in 2020, the ministry said.

The $4-billion deal for the multi-purpose 4,000-tonne frigates involves building two in Russia, with the rest constructed in India under Modi’s “Make in India” project aimed at stimulating domestic manufacturing.

Moscow has also agreed to lease a nuclear-powered submarine to India, according to Russian media reports. India’s navy has operated a Russian-origin nuclear-powered submarine of the same class since 2012 under a nearly $1 billion, 10-year lease.

Even with such significant Russian investment, the U.S. remains the largest arms supplier to India with over $15 billion in orders in the last decade as well as a defense logistics agreement signed earlier this year.