New Delhi: India was reportedly presented with an offer of Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC-3) missile defence systems by the United States as an alternative to Russia’s air defence system S-400. As per reports, each unit of the THAAD defence system is likely to cost an estimated sum of $3 billion. India is also reported to be paying a sum of $5.4 billion to acquire five S-400s which consists of eight launchers each.
The previous Obama administration was not very forthcoming in sharing its advance missile defence system with India, following which New Delhi went ahead to procure it from Russia. As part of its Indo-Pacific strategy, the Trump administration now seems to be more than inclined to let India procure its missile defence system.
Earlier, a top Pentagon official also stated that America is willing to build a “much deeper and broader relationship” with India. Therefore, the US discussed a potential missile defence collaboration with India. “The Indians have substantial capabilities domestically of their own and they’ve done some development of missile defences. So the degree to which they’re interested in working with us remains to be seen,” said Under Secretary of Defence for Policy John Rood before the prestigious Hudson Institute think-tank in the month of February.
The US is the second-largest arms supplier to India. It has already recognised India as a “major defence partner”, a status that which commits the US to facilitate technology sharing with India. In 2018, the US granted India Strategic Trade Authorisation-1 (STA-1) status. India is the only South Asian country to get STA1 status and third Asian country after Japan and South Korea. The status eases India’s defence procurement from the US. Last year, India and the US signed the COMCASA (Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement) to facilitate interoperability between the two militaries and sale of high-end technology.
(With agency inputs)