1st Indo-US defence pact post S-400 deal with Russia

1st Indo-US defence pact post S-400 deal with Russia

Photo via Twitter for representation.

The USA has approved the sale of two self-protection suits to Air India One, bringing a sense of relief to the Indian establishment that kept its fingers crossed on the military purchase from the USA in the wake of the S-400 deal with Russia.

The State Department on Wednesday (US time) cleared the $190 million (nearly Rs 1,355 crore) deal through the Foreign Military Sales route, says a statement issued by the Defence Security Cooperation Agency under the US Department of Defence.

The sales will happen after approval from the US Congress.

This is New Delhi's first defence deal with Washington after clinching a Rs 39,000 crore deal with Russia in October 2018 to procure five S-400 Triumf missile defence system, brushing aside threats of the USA imposing CAATSA (Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) on India.

With no official word yet on CAATSA from the US side so far, the announcement on the latest military sale by the State Department will relieve the Ministry of External Affairs and Defence as they hope to expand the scope of military relations with Donald Trump administration.

As per the deal, two self-protection suits would be sold by Boeing for VVIP fleet that ferries the prime minister and president.

The proposed sale, says the Pentagon statement, will not alter the basic military balance in the region and will improve India's capability to deter regional threats.

“It will support the foreign policy and national security of the USA by helping to strengthen the US-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” the statement says.

The last such purchase decision from the USA was in June 2018 when the Pentagon approved sale of six AH-64E Apache helicopters for an estimated cost of $930 million.

Over the years, the USA has emerged as one of the major players in the lucrative Indian defence market as the import from America rose by 557% between 2008-12 and 2013-17, according to a March 2018 report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which keeps an eye on the global arms trade.