INDIA is set to spend almost $6 BILLION on cutting-edge S-400 air missile defence systems from Russia - despite the UK investing £60 million each year into the heavily poverty-stricken country.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has forwarded the deal for the purchase of five S-400 units to the Finance Ministry and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office for Government approval. The cost equates to £4.3 billion.
According to Russian television network RT, the S-400 Triumf can engage with targets at a range of up to 40km and ballistic missiles up to 60km away.
It can use at least four interceptor missile types - one S-400 division can engage up to 36 targets simultaneously.
A source at the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) told the Times of India: “The S-400 procurement case will now go to the finance ministry for clearance and the PM-led Cabinet Committee on Security for the final nod.
“The country’s top political leadership will have to take a call on when the actual contract can be inked.”
At the end of last year, it was revealed that India’s NASA-style space agency ISRO has become so successful that it now launches satellites for the USA, and boasts the 10th largest economy in the world.
It had a growing battery of more than 130 Indian-built nuclear warheads, with the country expected to outstrip the UK’s 215-strong nuclear deterrent in the next decade.
India’s Nuclear budget almost exactly matched the UK’s at around £5 billion.
But the country remains heavily poverty-stricken - according to figures from the Department for International Development (DFID), India received £186m in foreign aid in 2015 from a total of £12.1 billion - but that was the last year the country received "traditional aid" from the UK.
Its budget for India in the period 2017/18 was £60 million - £30 million for "traditional assistance" and £30 million for "development capital".
A DFID spokesman said: "DFID ended traditional aid to India in 2015. The UK now provides world-leading expertise and private investment to boost prosperity, create jobs and open up markets - which is firmly in our interests.
"This will help lift people out of poverty and strengthen the UK-India partnership, which is increasingly important as the UK leaves the EU."
Last month, it was revealed that India has the world’s second largest poor population behind Nigeria.
According to figures from World Poverty Clock, 73 million Indian people or 5.3 percent of the total population still live in “extreme poverty” - classed as a person living on less than $1.90 a day.
The multi-billion pound purchase of the S-400 has also come under strong opposition from the US.
According to RT, the deal, provisionally discussed in a summit between Mr Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in October 2016, has raised questions over the possible imposition of US sanctions, which aim to deter nations from buying Russian weapons.
US armed services committee chairman Mac Thornberry said in May: “The acquisition of this technology will limit, I am afraid, the degree with which the United States will feel comfortable in bringing additional technology into whatever country we are talking about.”
Mr Thornberry added that there is also concern that “any country that acquires the system will complicate the ability of interoperability” with US forces.