India has always been a big buyer in the international arms purchase market. “Rafale”, Su-30MKI fighter jets, C-17 large transport aircraft, “Apache” armed helicopters, S-400 defence system, etc., are all in the bag, the strongest, but also expensive.
However, According to recent news from Indian defence research wing, India drops the plans to acquire 21 MiG-29 and 6 Boeing P-8I Neptune from Russia and the US respectively.
Earlier India already canceled the contract for short-range surface-to-air missiles and 14 helicopters. It is speculated that the purchase of Ka-226 helicopters, Ka-31 carrier-based helicopters and “Club” anti-ship missiles from Russia has been canceled. In addition, contracts for the procurement of towed artillery systems, vertically-launched surface-to-air missiles, carrier-based drones, and MiG-29K fighter jets are also under review.
There is even news that the contract for the purchase of 10 additional P-8I anti-submarine patrol aircraft, approved by the Indian Defense Procurement Committee in November 2019, may also be reduced or even cancelled. Previously, India has purchased 8 P-8I anti-submarine patrol aircraft from the Boeing Company of the United States, and as of December 2021, all of them have arrived in service.
Reconsidering and canceling so many orders at once will have a very far-reaching impact on India. Not to mention anything else, the rebates from the purchase contract will involve all kinds of powerful people. But even so, the Modi government still insists on doing it, which shows that it is the result of weighing the pros and cons, and it has to “kill the killer”, and there are deeper reasons behind it.
The reason India drop the deal was because of the Current Govt “AatmaNirbhar Bharat” campaign. suggest that DAC in consultation with the Navy has dropped plans to acquire more submarine hunters and rather focus now will be on the DRDO proposed development of Multi-Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMMA) on Airbus developed C295 Transporter that would include three tactical consoles, an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, identification friend and foe equipment, an electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor, and other equipment consistent with the maritime patrol mission.
With the cancellation of six additional P-8I Neptune, India might have saved approx. $2.4 Billion in terms of foreign exchange. It’s still not clear if Made in India C295 based MMMA will be supplementing the P-8I fleet or plans are to procure a larger platform and equip it with indigenous radars and sensors.
While talking about MiG-29 deal, the source didn’t mention any particular reason to cancel the deal. Indian Air Force (IAF) along with the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to cancel earlier plans to procure 21 airframes that are in deep storage in Russia to be later upgraded with UPG Standard kit to boost its declining combat aircraft strength as per the latest media reports coming out of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) held recently. IAF in 2020 had cleared the deal after inspecting the airframes that are in storage for the last 20 years after cancellation from an export customer and these airframes were never made into fully assembled jets due to which they were offered at a reasonable price.
The reason India cancel the deal with Russia was because of Tejas aircraft. If you compare the capabilities of Tejas MK1A and MK2 with Russian MiG-29 then you will find out the Indian-made fighter better in every aspect. Also buying the homemade products will boost Indian defence industry.
Another reason India cancels the deal might be the performance of Russian aircraft. Recently Indian armed forces lost so many aircraft including brand new Mi-17v5 helicopter. Russian made aircraft ask more maintenance and care compared to western and homemade aircraft.
Another reason is Russian products are not trustworthy anymore for India. For example, while canceling the Ka-226 and Ka-31 carrier-based helicopter procurement plans, the Indian Ministry of Defense approved the purchase of air-to-ground missiles and helicopters from France. In fact, in recent years, Russian weapons have been increasingly suppressed by European and American weapons in India. Since the cancellation of cooperation on the fifth-generation Su-57, there has been a decline. Recently, India is bidding for carrier-based aircraft from the United States and France for the first and second domestic aircraft carriers, and is preparing to abandon the MiG-29K.