US-Indian relations have also developed rapidly in the defence sector. India has begun to replace Russian arms with American weaponry and in recent years, Russia has conceded a lot of ground to the United States.
Here are some examples of American expansion in the Indian market at the cost of Russia:.
Apache combat helicopter over Mi-28
India was looking to replace its ageing fleet of Russian Mi-24 with 22 new combat helicopters. Making a selection from a range of models, India chose to not buy the Mi-28 and Ka-52 offered by Russia but instead ordered the Apache, manufactured in the United States. The total value of the deal is estimated at $1.5 billion.
C-17 military transport aircraft prevailed over the Il-76
It could be said that for the past few decades the Russian Il-76 has been the ‘star’ of Russian military-transport aviation. India ordered several of these aircraft for her own fleet. Nevertheless despite all the advantages of the Il-76 and its recent modification, the Il-476, India, in securing a contract with the US to purchase 10 C-17 Globemaster military-transport aircraft for $4.1 billion showed that she was intent on purchasing military hardware produced by American manufacturers wherever possible.
Chinook over the Mi-26
The Indian leadership decided to purchase new heavy transport helicopters to replace the Mi-26. This is the world’s largest helicopter and it could be said that in terms of both flight performance and price it trumps the American Chinook. It was a Mi-26 that once delivered several Chinook helicopters that had sustained damage in the Afghan mountains to a repair base. Nevertheless as surprising as it is, the Indian Government placed an order to purchase 15 Chinook helicopters at a cost of almost $1 billion
R-8 replaced the Tu-142 anti-submarine warfare aircraft
For a long time the Indian Navy operated the Tu-142 anti-submarine warfare aircraft (a special modification of the Tu-95). Despite this however India ordered 12 anti-submarine warfare R-8s from their American manufacturers. In doing so India became the first country to operate these aircrafts outside the United States. The contract is worth at least $3 billion. It is possible that India may order another 12 of these aircraft in the future.
C-130 transport aircraft over An-124
The Indian fleet of medium range heavy transport aircraft consisted mainly of the An-124, however India decided to seek a replacement. Russia was hoping that India would purchase upgraded models of these transport aircraft, however New Delhi preferred the more expensive American option and ordered 12 C-130 J aircraft known as the SuperHercules at a cost of over $2.1 billion
Stinger versus the ‘Igla’
In spite of the fact that India once purchased an enormous number of ‘Igla-1’ Russian portable air defence missile systems (PZRK – Perenosnoy Zenitniy Raketniy Kompleks) known by the NATO codename SA-16 Gimlet, she has now refused to buy more of these. In place of these systems New Delhi has decided to purchase 245 Stinger portable air defence missile systems along with a number of the corresponding projectiles. India has therefore abstained from equipping her Army with the new and cheaper Russian ‘Igla’ (SA-18 Grouse) and ‘Igla-S’ (SA-24 Grinch) missile systems.
Russia has conceded an enormous economic advantage as a result of American activity on the Indian arms market. The overall value of all the military contracts between the Americans and the Indians is believed to be around $12 billionIn five years, India will replace its fleet of 140 MiG-21 and 100 MiG-27 aircraft, with the Rafale and the ‘Tejas’. Ageing MiG-29s will also be scrapped some ten years from now. Russian defence companies will be actively promoting their own products to replace these 260 aircraft. Although 140 Su-30 and more than a hundred Su-50 aircraft are more than likely to be purchased, Russia’s ability to maintain her monopoly on the Indian arms market will encounter some serious obstacles. Earlier this year Russia failed to sell the ‘Buk’-M1-2 air defence system (known in NATO as the SA-17 Grizzly), because of a preference for the Israeli Spider system. A programme to supply India with a large number of T-90 tanks was also stopped because the Indians had started to manufacture their own model the ‘Arjun’.
Despite all these setbacks Russian arms manufacturers are still able to fight off competition from French, Israeli, and British companies in the Indian arms market although competing with the United States is going to be far from easy. Naturally Russia will still retain a significant share in the Indian arms market for at least the next decade. A blow of $12 billion however, which Russia incurred due to American competition, should force many to rethink the situation.