NEW DELHI: Russia has already trained a group of Indian personnel to operate the first regiment of the Triumf S-400 surface-to-air missile systems and the delivery of the components of the weapons to India has begun ahead of schedule, a Russian official said on Monday.
Alexander Mikheyev, the head of Russia’s state-run military firm Rosoboronexport, told news agency TASS that a number of Russian experts will visit India in early January to oversee the installation of the weapons at the sites where it will be stationed.
He said Russia has already trained “Indian specialists” to operate the S-400 systems.
“The Indian specialists who will operate the first regiment set have completed their training and returned home,” the Rosoboronexport chief said on the sidelines of the Dubai Airshow.
The director general of the Rosoboronexport said the company is in consultations with “seven partners” on possible supplies of S-400 Triumf missile systems.
“Rosoboronexport continues consultations with Russia’s seven strategic partners on supplies of high-technology and effective S-400 missile systems,” Mikheyev said.
He also said that the shipment of equipment of the missile systems to India has begun ahead of schedule and that the first S-400 regiment will be delivered by the end of the year.
“All the material of the first regiment set will be delivered to India at the end of 2021. Immediately after the New Year, our specialists will arrive in India for the equipment transfer at the sites where it will be stationed,” Mikheyev said.
His comments came a day after Russia’s Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Dmitry Shugaev said that Russia has begun the delivery of the S-400 missile systems to India.
In October 2018, India had signed a USD 5 billion deal with Russia to buy five units of the S-400 air defence missile systems, despite a warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract may invite US sanctions.
The Biden administration has not yet clarified whether it will impose sanctions on India under the provisions of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for procuring the S-400 missile systems.
The CAATSA, which was brought in 2017, provides for punitive actions against any country engaged in transactions with Russian defence and intelligence sectors.
The US has already imposed sanctions on Turkey under the CAATSA for the purchase of a batch of S-400 missile defence systems from Russia.
The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
Following the US sanctions on Turkey, there were apprehensions that Washington may impose similar punitive measures on India.
US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, during a visit to India last month, said that any country deciding to use the S-400 missiles is “dangerous” and not in anybody’s security interest.
At the same time, she hoped that the US and India will be able to resolve differences over the procurement.
It is learnt that the matter is being discussed between India and the US.
Russia has been one of India’s key major suppliers of arms and ammunition.