The United States is attempting to sway India into considering its missile defence option -- Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) -- to keep itself ahead of Russia. It is to be noted that India and Russia have been holding talks over a possible sale of S-400 air defence system.
According to The Economic Times, this could be taken up in the inaugural US-India 2+2 Dialogue on July 6 for which External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be in Washington.
The THAAD, manufactured by Lockheed Martin, is an anti-ballistic missile defence which is believed to be particularly effective against long-range missiles.
The S-400 missile defence system, which is manufactured by Russia, however, is more reliable against a larger array of aerial attacks, particularly fighter aircraft such as F-18s and F-35s. The latest version of the Russian made S-400 has a longer range.
The Economic Times also reports that India's proposed S-400 purchase from Russia has prompted a reassessment within the Donald Trump administration on whether India would have gone ahead with the nearly Rs. 39,000 crore deal with Russia had the US moved faster with the THAAD offer.
The India-Russia S-400 deal has become a politically sensitive issue with the US with its Congress debating a bill to put sanctions against Russia as well as the recipient nation. But this deal between the two countries could be taken as an exception given India's strong defence partnership with Russia. The Trump administration, through Secretary of Defence James Mattis, has pitched for a waiver for countries such as India on the condition that it progressively reduced its military dependency on Russia.
The defence experts are of the view that it is unreasonable for the US to expect India to decouple its defence relationship with Russia, which has been a proven reliable partner through several conflicts. Apparently, India has also been looking for options other than Russia to purchase defence equipment.