A Pentagon intelligence official has told U.S. lawmakers that India wants to deploy S-400 missile defense systems from Russia to counter the threat posed by Pakistan and China.
India began receiving S-400 missile defense from Russia in December last year, Lt. Gen. Scott Barrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a recent congressional hearing.
By October 2021, the Indian military wanted to acquire advanced surveillance systems to strengthen its land and sea borders and enhance its offensive and defensive cyber capabilities.
In December, India received an early delivery of the Russian S-400 air defense system and plans to operate the system by June 2022 to protect against Pakistani and Chinese threats, Barrier said.
India continues to develop its own hypersonic, ballistic, cruise, and air defense missile capabilities, conducting multiple tests in 2021. India has a growing number of satellites in orbit, and it is expanding the use of space resources, possibly following aggressive space capabilities, he said.
Barrier told lawmakers that New Delhi was pursuing a broader military modernization effort, including air, land, naval and strategic nuclear forces, with an emphasis on domestic defense production.
India is taking steps to establish an integrated theater command that will enhance the joint capabilities of its three military services.
Since 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has prioritized strengthening India’s economy by expanding its domestic defense industry and setting up a negative import list to reduce defense purchases from foreign suppliers.
India’s long-standing defense ties with Russia are strong, with a joint foreign and defense ministerial-level talks in their first 2 + 2 ‘format being held in December, which India previously held only with the United States, Japan and Australia.
India has maintained a neutral stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and continues to call for peace, Beria told lawmakers.
According to Barrier, throughout 2021, New Delhi has continued to implement foreign policy aimed at demonstrating India’s role as a leading power and security net provider in the Indian Ocean region.
He said India seeks to promote prosperity and ensure stability in the Indo-Pacific region through strategic partnership to make an impact through the Quartet Security Dialogue and bilateral and multilateral processes such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).