Ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to India, the US State Department approved the sale of integrated air defence weapon systems to India at a cost of $1.867 billion. New Delhi had already contracted to purchase five S-400 long-range air-defence missile systems from Russia in 2018.
Despite developing the country’s own ballistic air defence system, the Indian government had requested to buy an Integrated Air Defense Weapon System featuring the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS), which was approved by the US State Department on 10 February.
A group of Indian defence analysts hinted that the purchase of the American system could prove to be of major significance for India’s air defence, which is faced with consistent threats from Pakistan as well as China.
Rajiv Nayan, a defence analyst specialising in weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), said that despite India’s own air and ballistic missile defence systems, a gap still exists despite the S-400s and the American system would bridge the gap in the Indian air defence system.
Earlier, it was reported in Indian media that a domestically-produced air defence programme is complete and will be installed in Delhi in three to four years to secure the nation’s capital from both nuclear and conventional missiles.
Rahul Bhonsle, a former Indian Army Brigadier, said: “The procurement of the NASAMS was in the offing for some time now and essentially it appears to be for the national capital. This would imply that either the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed Missile Defence system is seen as not reliable enough to cover Delhi or that this is being planned for other major metros, such as Mumbai.”
However, DRDO had claimed in the past, on several occasions, that the weapons system radars tracked one target among simultaneously-incoming multiple targets in real-time and the missile locked on to it and intercepted the target with a high degree of accuracy.
The Indian government also voiced their appreciation that scientists in the past had developed the country’s advanced air defence missile system.