US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has reportedly raised the issue of India’s planned purchase of S-400 air defence system from Russia during his first visit to the south Asian country.
The move comes amid increasing concerns that the US may impose sanctions on India for purchasing the Russian air defence system.
According to a Reuters report, Secretary Austin discussed the matter during a meeting with Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
However, he later told the reporters that the possibility of sanctions was not discussed as India is yet to receive the surface-to-air missile systems.
The first set of missile batteries are expected to arrive in India later this year while a team of specialists are already in Moscow to pursue training courses on the S-400 air defence system.
Developed by Almaz Central Design Bureau of Russia, the S-400 is an upgraded version of the S-300 family of surface-to-air missile systems.
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The system can engage aerial threats, including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), as well as ballistic and cruise missiles, within a range of up to 400km.
Last year, the US imposed sanctions on Turkey for procuring the S-400 from Russia.
The sanction banned all export licences and authorisations to Turkey’s primary defence procurement entity Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB). It also prohibited all joint projects and programmes involving technology transfers.
The sanctions were imposed pursuant to Section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), a law devised to sanction countries involved in trade with Russia.
In recent years, the US has emerged as one of the largest military equipment export partners of India. India is expected to sign a deal to acquire armed drones from the US soon.