India has green-lighted the purchase of 33 Russian fighter jets and upgrades to 59 others worth $2.4 billion at a time of rising border tensions with China. The purchase, along with indigenously produced missile systems in line with the government’s “Make in India” initiative, were made “to strengthen the armed forces for the defense of our borders,” The Defense Ministry on July 2 announced the purchase from Russia of 21 MiG-29s as well as upgrades to 59 existing MiG-29 aircraft. The government also approved the procurement of 12 Russian Su-30 MKI aircraft to be built under license by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
The equipment going to be manufactured in India involving Indian defence industry with participation of several MSMEs as prime tier vendors. The indigenous content in some of these projects is up to 80 per cent of the project cost. A large number of these projects have been made possible due to Transfer of Technology (ToT) by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to the indigenous industry. These include Pinaka ammunitions, BMP armament upgrades and software defined radios for the Indian Army, Long Range Land Attack Cruise Missile Systems and Astra Missiles for the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF).
The announcement followed a telephone conversation between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin. New Delhi and Moscow were partners during the Cold War and much of India’s military hardware is of Russian origin. Most of India’s arms imports still come from Russia. The United States and Israel are also major providers of high-tech military hardware. India’s military buildup comes as its relationship with China has worsened in recent weeks following a clash on June 15 along a disputed stretch of border in the Himalayas in which India lost 20 soldiers.