Russia-Ukraine war to affect India’s military sustenance, expansion

The war between Russia and Ukraine will cost India’s military capabilities, but to what effect is what the government is looking upon. It will all depend on how long the war continues and what would be the outcome of the conflict. The war will set a new world order for arms procurement and bilateral military relationship. And repercussions of it will be felt in New Delhi.

India gets more than 50 per cent of its arms and ammunition and military platforms requirements from Russia. Since Russia is at war, India’s military capabilities will be affected dearly. Be it delivery of platforms like nuclear powered submarines, Grigorovich class frigates, fighter jets, Triumf S-400, AK 203 assault rifle and others or sustenance of tanks, aircraft and other platforms procured from Russia.

There are three critical aspects where India will face challenges due to war.

Explaining those critical aspects, Major General Ashok Kumar (Retd) told IANS, “There are three critical aspects where India will face challenges — the hard core military hardware including its support infrastructure; non direct military support and the equipment coming from Russia and the overall economic condition which will leave less funds with the military affecting modernization and upgradation.”

The military preparedness depends on a number of issues – one is military hardware itself wherein more than 50 per cent of Indian equipment are of Russian origin.

“So its maintenance, spare parts and other sustenance issues, even after indigenization, in some way will remain linked with the Russian support,” Major General Ashok Kumar said.

Though India has been trying to diversify to other countries -France and the US — and increasing its own in-house production, but still has to reach stages where the contribution of any particular country is less. As you diversify more, the challenges will also be enhanced in terms of maintenance and provision of the spares and ammunition, so on and so forth

For a nation, self reliance will be better that there is no major chunk from a particular block or a country. “Becoming self reliant in a fully fledged manner is reasonably high degree but all that will take time..,” he said.

“Since we are not very sure as to when the war is going to end nor are we also sure in which manner it is going to end it is difficult to tell the impact of the war on India.”

If it ends in an amicable manner the impact will be less. But if Russia occupies Ukraine, the fight continues and the sanctions will continue for a long time then there will be a lot of problems and challenges before India.

The second challenge will be indirect. In critical installations like satellites India is using some Russian components. “That will also be affected because the satellite in today’s time also applied to get the input and surveillance about the enemy area, especially the Chinese,” he said.

Third impact on the military will happen if the country’s economic condition gets affected. If inflation goes up, there would be a number of issues. “Depending on in which direction the economy of the world goes, that will have an impact on the sustenance of the military expansion and its acquisition,” Major General Ashok Kumar said.

He also stated that the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and the sanctions imposed on Russia by Western and European Nations will delay the delivery of critical projects Indian armed forces were looking upon to enhance its capabilities.

India decided to upgrade its military infrastructure when the country was locked in a major face-off with China along the Line of Actual Control in July 2020. The threat of two-front war – from China and Pakistan – has made India go for large scale arms deals.

Last week, India’s defence ministry reviewed the status of current deals with Russia and how the war is going to impact the Indian military capabilities. However both India and Russia maintained there would be no delays with respect to deliveries of critical platforms.

In December 2021, India and Russia signed more than two dozen deals across a variety of sectors and had also inked a 10-year defence cooperation pact.

Back then in a joint statement India and Russia had stated they intend to “upgrade the defence cooperation, including facilitating joint development and production of military equipment, components and spare parts, enhancing the after-sales service system, progress towards mutual recognition of quality control and regular joint exercises of the Armed Forces of the two countries.”

Triumf S-400

One of the deals with Russia is the Triumf S-400 air defence system.

India signed a $5 billion deal with Russia in October 2018 to buy five units of the S-400 surface to air missile system. Russia has stated that it will deliver on time, however, the war will delay the same.

S-400 air defence system is a mobile long range surface to air missile system which is considered one of the most lethal in the world. It can take down multiple targets up to a range of 400 km.

AK 203 assault rifle

The Indian Army had also inked a deal with Russia to jointly develop the AK 203 assault rifle worth Rs 5,000 crore. The production of 6.71 lakh AK 203 rifles in Korwa, Amethi in Uttar Pradesh as part of a joint venture with Russia under the ‘Make in India’ project will face further delays despite the deal having faced hurdles and delays earlier.

Nuclear-powered submarine

In 2019, India signed a $3 billion deal with Russia for leasing a nuclear-powered submarine. The Chakra III, Akula class submarine is expected to be delivered by 2025 for a period of 10 years. This will be the third nuclear submarine India will take on lease from Russia, the other two being in 1988 for a period of three years and then in 2012 for 10 years. The lease for this will end this year.

Grigorovich class frigates

The deal to get four Grigorovich class frigates was signed between Russia’s state-run arms exporter Rosoboronexport and Goa Shipyard Ltd in 2018.

Two frigates for the Indian Navy worth $1 billion were to be manufactured in Russia and the other two in Goa. The delivery was supposed to start within four years of signing of the contract.

MiG-29 up-gradation

The arms and ammunition deals with Russia also includes procurement of additional 21 MiG-29 for the Indian Air Force (IAF), up-gradation of existing 59 MiG-29 aircraft at an estimated cost of Rs 7,418 crore and purchase of 12 Su-30 MKI aircraft for Rs 10,730 crore to be built at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

(Sumit Kumar Singh can be reached at sumit.k@ians.in)

20220312-194402

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