India's Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) 'quietly' cleared on 26 September the procurement of five Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air (SAM) missile systems for the Indian Air Force (IAF) for USD5.5 billion.
Disregarding the threat of the United States imposing sanctions on countries acquiring Russian-made defence equipment, the CCS, which is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the acquisition shortly before President Vladimir Putin was scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on 5 October for the 19th annual Indo-Russian summit.
The proposed deal for about 30 launchers and more than 6,000 missiles - delivery of which is expected to begin 36 months after the contract is signed - would, at Russian insistence, be concluded without the Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) mandatory 30% offset liability of the overall contract value.
Senior Russian officials have pointed out that New Delhi's insistence on offsets, in keeping with its Defence Procurement Procedure 2016, could delay the delivery of the systems by up to two years and increase costs.
"As far as I have heard, there is no offset package for the programme. It is a strategic project and is very important for the two countries," Viktor Klavov, the director for International Co-operation and Regional Policy at Russia's Rostec defence industrial holding company, had told the Economic Times newspaper on 11 July, adding that the MoD should not "play around" with some offset packages.
In July the MoD's Defence Acquisition Council had approved the S-400 procurement and signed an inter-governmental agreement for the systems in October amid uncertainty prompted by the threat of US sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which Washington signed into law in August 2017.
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