Indian military cannot operate successfully without Russian-supplied technology and will continue to rely on its weapons systems in the near and medium term, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) analysis.
The report comes only days before the Biden administration must decide whether to sanction India for buying military equipment from Russia under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
According to the independent CRS in its study 'Russian Arms Sales and Defense Industry', the Indian military cannot operate effectively without Russian-supplied weaponry and will continue to rely on Russian weapons systems in the near and medium term.
"As put by one senior American observer, New Delhi's continuing purchases 'remain one of the few levers of influence that India still possesses vis-à vis Moscow'. In this sense, much of Moscow's influence in India comes through its willingness to provide weapons systems and technologies that no other country will export to India. Russia also continues to offer advanced weapons platforms at relatively attractive rates," the CRS said.
The CRS commissions periodic reports from independent subject experts. Informed lawmakers can make better decisions with the help of the Congressional Research Service.
A graph revealed that since 2015, the Modi government has reduced Russia's equipment imports.
Indian military equipment is extensively loaded with Russian-made or Russian-designed equipment, according to The Military Balance 2021, the CRS reported. The Indian Army's main battle tank force is made up of Russian T-72M1 (66%) and T-90S (30%) tanks.
The CRS said Indian planners appear to have determined that alternatives to the S-400 supplied by Washington — the Patriot and THAAD systems — lack the alleged range and versatility of the Russian weaponry.
A fresh USD 3.1 billion contract for local production of 464 Russian-designed T-90S tanks was also signed, despite a trend away from Russian arms imports.
New Delhi is reportedly "full steam ahead" with the introduction of the S-400, with first deliveries expected in autumn 2021 and final delivery in early 2023, according to the CRS report.
Russian officials indicated in August 2021 that S-400 deliveries would commence by the end of 2021.
According to SIPRI, India has been the largest Russian arms purchaser since 2010, accounting for nearly two-thirds (62%) of all Russian arms exports.
Between 2016 and 2020, India contributed for over a quarter (23%) of Russia's total arms exports, and Russia for roughly half (49%) of Indian imports.
As reported by the CRS, the Indian Navy's sole operating aircraft carrier is a restored Soviet-era vessel with a full complement of Russian-made fighter and ground attack aircraft. Its fighter force consists of 43 MiG-29K/KUBs.
"Four of the Navy's ten guided-missile destroyers and six of its 17 frigates are Russian. The Navy's lone nuclear-powered submarine is leased from Russia, as are eight of its 14 other Kilo class submarines "said.
"Finally, the IAF's 667-plane FGA force is 71% Russian (39 per cent Su-30s, 22 per cent MiG-21s, nine per cent MiG-29s). The service's six air tankers are Russian Il-78s "CRS reported.