NEW DELHI - Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, leading an official delegation which includes over 50 businessmen, is expected to hold discussions with his Russian counterpart General Sergei Shoigu in Moscow, on all areas of bilateral military and military-technical cooperation.

Ahead of the 19th India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission meeting in Moscow this Wednesday, India has urged Russia to expedite the delivery of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems, The Times of India reported.

The S-400 squadrons were initially slated for delivery from October 2020 to April 2023. But, sources speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Indian daily: "The first instalment of 15 percent" has been delayed by several months due to payment issues.

Although Moscow has committed to adhering to the originally agreed delivery schedule, the issue will top the agenda during Wednesday's meeting. The sources also stated that the $5.43 billion deal inked in October 2018 relates to the delivery of five S-400 squadrons.

S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems can detect, track and destroy hostile strategic bombers, aircraft, missiles and drones at a range of 380-kilometres. Indian Defence Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh, is also likely to visit the S-400 production facilities in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on Thursday.

India and Russia have worked out a payment mechanism for the missiles to avoid sanctions by the US which isn't in favour of New Delhi acquiring the Russian weapon systems.

Last month, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said that he was "reasonably convinced" that the United States would understand New Delhi's decision to purchase advanced defence equipment, including the S-400 missile defence systems, from Russia.

The US Department of State warned that it could impose sanctions on any country that buys weapons from Russia's defence sector under its 2017 Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). However, India and Russia have found a permanent payment mechanism, which they believe will sidestep any possible US sanctions.


Any Other Defence Projects to be Discussed?


Both countries are also expected to discuss Project 75(I) project worth around $6.5 billion under which New Delhi is seeking to acquire at least six submarines for the Indian Navy, including one Akula-1 nuclear-powered attack submarine worth more than $3 billion.

Besides Russia's Rosoboronexport, Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems from Germany, and the Naval Group from France are competing to win this tender from India.

Russia has also offered to jointly design "Class D" submarines for the Indian Navy. The proposed deal was discussed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in the Russian city of Vladivostok, in September this year.

In regards to upgrading the Indian Air Force (IAF), New Delhi is looking to acquire a more advanced version of the Sukhoi-30MKI.

Last month, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal R.K. Bhadauria had said that the upgraded Sukhoi would be equipped with modern "radar and weapons capabilities". It would also have enhanced features to tackle obsolescence management and electronic warfare aspects," he added.

During the defence minister's visit, both sides will also inaugurate the "India-Russia Defence Industry Cooperation Conference". Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov will represent the Russian side.

The Indian delegation's visit to Russia is a follow-up to the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) signed on 4 September to operationalise a mechanism for collaboration on joint manufacturing of spare parts, components, aggregates and other products for the maintenance of Russian-origin arms and defence equipment in India, through the transfer of technology and setting up of joint ventures.

The IGA framework gives assurance to business orders for a minimum of five years.

Russian platforms identified for cooperation in manufacturing spares and components include the Sukhoi Su-30, MIG 29, Mi-17 helicopters, MIG 29 K/KUB, INS Vikramaditya, T-72 and T-90.