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Yury Laskin

The Indian Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh arrived in Moscow for a three day on Monday and today, he will be among guests invited to watch the 75th anniversary of the Victory parade at the Red Square, where 80 Indian troops are to join the Russian columns.

After arriving, Mr Singh tweeted that the visit gives him: “the chance to negotiate ways to further [the] defence and strategic partnership between India and Russia”.

The Economic Times of India reported that Mr Singh will call on the Russian side to expedite the supply of S-400 air defence systems. “India, during the visit of Secretary of Defence Singh will urge Russia to consider accelerating the delivery of S-400,” the newspaper writes. According to the publication, Moscow has warned New Delhi of a possible delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The delivery of the first regiment set is scheduled before the end of 2021. We plan to deliver all systems before the end of 2024”, Dmitry Shugaev, director of the Federal High-Tech Transport Service, said in an interview with Interfax in March. In early October 2018, on the sidelines of the Russian-Indian summit, a contract was signed for five regiments of the S-400 TRIUMPH air defence systems to New Delhi.

More fighters

Last Friday, Indian media, citing government sources, disclosed that New Delhi plans to purchase an extra batch of 21 MiG-29 and 12 Su-30MKI fighters from Moscow, in a deal estimated at approximately US$700m. Additionally, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has offered India 114 new Su-35 multi-role fighters for local production under the “Make in India” policy. According to the Defence Aviation Post, this proposal could be very attractive to India in view of recent tensions with China in Ladakh. It also stated that the Russian Su-35 fighter stands out among the seven bidders for the tender of 114 multi-purpose combat aircraft as the only heavy platform for conducting air combat and assault operations.

Based on its flight performance, the Su-35 surpasses all other participants across the spectrum with “comfort” – larger payload, longer range, higher ceiling, more powerful radar and electronics sets, as well as the thrust vectoring engines for super manoeuvrability and higher speed. It is also the only fighter in the competition capable of carrying hypersonic missiles and, along with the MiG-35, the only one to receive guided missiles with an active phased antenna array. Despite the relatively low cost per unit and high performance, the main disadvantage of the Su-35 compared to lighter fighters such as the MiG-35 and RAFALE is the higher maintenance requirements and operating costs.