New Delhi: As India gets set to purchase S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems for the Indian Air Force from Russia, all may not be well for Indo-US defence cooperation with questions being raised in Washington about New Delhi-Moscow bonhomie.
India on Monday put finishing touches on price negotiations with Russia in what is a nearly Rs 40,000 crore deal for the ballistic missile shield system. Shortly afterwards, William Thornberry, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee raised the matter and the consequent possibility of re-checking sale of defence equipment to India - especially that of Predator drones. "The acquisition of this technology (S-400) 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," Thornberry told news channel NDTV in an interview.
India and the US have been increasing defence co-operation and Predator Drones are one of the most eagerly anticipated acquisitions - especially because of its use in anti-terror operations. And while the US has not minced words in expressing its displeasure with the possibility of a deal for S-400 systems, Thornberry - head of all US Military Services and US Department of Defence agencies - has said there is room for flexibility despite the looming deal, possibly because India and Russia have a long history of bilateral arms trade.
And while Predator Drones may be crucial if and when deployed for anti-terror operations targeted at Pakistan, it is reported that the need for S-400 missile shield is no less important and can be crucial in strengthening India's air defence abilities - especially along the Sino-Indian border.