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India signs deal to purchase Russian air-to-air missiles : Govt. sources

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Indian Air Force aircrafts Sukhoi Su30 MKI (C) flies during the inaugural day of the five-day Aero India 2019 airshow at the Yelahanka Air Force station, in Bangalore on February 20, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

India has reportedly signed a deal with Russia for purchase of advanced air-to-air missiles to be fitted on its Sukhoi fighter jets, as New Delhi defies warnings from the US and turns to Moscow to strengthen its air defenses.

“A contract has been signed with Russia for the acquisition of R-27 air-to-air missile to be fitted on the Su-30MKI combat aircraft fleet of the Indian Air Force,” New Delhi’s government sources said on Monday.

The R-27 missile is designed to destroy air targets in adverse weather conditions at any time of day. It is a medium-to-long-range air-to-air missile developed by Russia for its MiG and Sukhoi series of fighter jets.

The sources stressed that the Russian missiles would give an added capability to the Sukhois to take on enemy aircraft at long ranges as they can be launched from an altitude of 25 kilometers up to a range of 60.

India has received warnings from Washington about buying Russian arms. Under its current rules against Moscow, Washington could impose sanctions on third-party countries should they transact with Russian defense or intelligence sectors.

In October 2018, Russia said it had reached an agreement an “unprecedented” level of military and technical cooperation, despite increasing US pressures on customers of Russian military hardware.

India signed, back then, a deal to buy five billion dollars worth of Russian S-400 air defense systems deal, following wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last month, Modi told visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that New Delhi will go by its national interest with regards to the deal on the S-400 systems, the first of which is slated to be delivered to India by the end of 2020.

Meanwhile, India is reportedly reconsidering the purchase of Global Hawk drones from the United States after Iran easily shot down one such drone over its airspace last month.

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