India’s arms build-up sharpen the race in South Asia

India’s arms build-up sharpen the race in South Asia

SAM Staff,

Russia has quietly agreed to lease out a second nuclear attack submarine of the Akula class to India this month in a deal worth around $2 billion. It was reported, the lease will replace the first Akula-class submarine the INS Chakra, which will expires in 2021. The lease deal was finalised at a summit-level meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Indian government took the decision to acquire a second Russian nuclear submarine on lease was taken after India’s first indigenously built nuclear submarine INS Arihant has been operationally deployed quietly. The second indigenous nuclear submarine of the same class, INS Aridhaman, will slip into the water in 2018. The Russian submarine will arrive in Indian waters in 2020-21, the Hindustan Times reports on 19 October 2016.

Inida’s arms acquisition from around the world has reached many-fold in recent years. According to a report by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), for the year 2015, India ranks top arms importing country of the world, which accounted for 15 per cent of the volume of global arms imports in the last five years SIPRI data shows that Indian arms imports rising by 140 per cent comparing for the five-year periods 2005-2009 and 2010-2014. In 2010-2014, India’s imports were three times larger than those of either China or Pakistan. In the last five years, Russia supplied 70 per cent of India’s arms imports, the USA 12 per cent and Israel 7 per cent.

Lastly on 15 October, India signed a multi-billion dollar defence-deal with Russia to acquire five new-generation S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems. The S-400 systems, which basically have three kinds of missiles, with different capabilities, that can fly at supersonic and hypersonic speeds to intercept all kinds of targets at ranges from 120 to 400-km. Russian experts even proclaim the S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system can “radar lock and shoot down” stealth fifth-generation fighters like the American F-35 jets.

Before that, a Reuters report on April 8 said that India was in talks with the United States to purchase 40 Predator surveillance drones, which would be capable of carrying arms. New Delhi has already acquired surveillance drones from Israel to monitor the mountains of Kashmir, a disputed region. India is ready for another $3 Billion arms deal with Israel assumed to be signed later this year during Prime Minister Norendro Modi’s visit to that country.

This arms build-up by the largest country in South Asia is a clear sign of arms-race in this reason. India also signed a 10-year defense pact, the logistics exchange memorandum of agreement (LEMOA), with the US on 29 August.

These defense purchase and agreements undoubtedly will have a direct impact on both Pakistan and China, two bordering countries. India’s arch-rival Pakistan does not have a nuclear submarine. China has four nuclear-powered submarines in operation and the number that will go up to six in a couple of years. Pakistan has already lodged its protest and said the deployment will pose a threat to the maritime security of the Indian Ocean Region’s (IOR) 32 littoral states.

Though, parts of Asia are racked by long-running insurgencies, terrorist groups, low-level civil wars, it is remarkable that the continent has not suffered a full-scale war between countries since China’s brief invasion of Vietnam in 1979. The region now accounts for almost half of the global market for weapons. The size of the market in Asia, particularly in South Asia, will remain growing in upcoming years, recent trend indicates.