During a congressional hearing, the Pentagon’s top intelligence official stated that India plans to deploy the Russian-made S-400 missile defense system by next month to defend itself against Pakistani and Chinese threats as part of an extensive military modernization effort encompassing air, ground, naval, and strategic nuclear forces. During a recent Congressional hearing, Lieutenant General Scott Berrier, Director of the Defence Intelligence Agency, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that India began receiving the S-400 missile defense system from Russia in December last year.
India’s military was looking to buy advanced surveillance equipment in October 2021 in order to fortify its land and maritime borders and improve its offensive and defensive cyber capabilities. “India received its first supply of the Russian S-400 air defence system in December, and it plans to put it into service by June 2022 to guard against Pakistani and Chinese threats,” Lt Gen Berrier added. “In 2021, India conducted many tests on its own hypersonic, ballistic, cruise, and air defence missile capabilities.” India is increasing the number of satellites in orbit and boosting its use of space assets, indicating that it is pursuing offensive space capabilities,” he said.
New Delhi is conducting a major military modernisation project spanning air, ground, navy, and strategic nuclear forces, with a concentration on domestic defence industry, according to Lt Gen Berrier. India is taking moves to establish Integrated Theatre Commands, which will help the country’s three armed services work together more effectively. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made it a priority to enhance India’s economy by strengthening the domestic defence sector and implementing a negative import list to limit defence purchases from foreign suppliers from 2019.
“India’s long-standing defence cooperation with Russia has remained robust, with the two countries holding their first ‘2 by 2’ format discussions in December – a joint foreign and defence ministerial meeting that India had previously only conducted with the US, Japan, and Australia.” Lt Gen Berrier informed the lawmakers, “India has maintained a neutral posture on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and continues to appeal for peace.”
Throughout 2021, according to Lt Gen Berrier, New Delhi pursued a foreign strategy intended at demonstrating India’s place as a premier power and net provider of security in the Indian Ocean area. India seeks strategic relationships to enhance influence through bilateral and multilateral platforms such as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), he added, in order to foster prosperity and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.
Lt Gen Berrier stated, “New Delhi aspires to improve intelligence and operational cooperation on cybersecurity, defend important information infrastructure, prevent adversary public opinion manipulation, and set standards and norms that preserve and secure data governance.” New Delhi is increasingly concerned about prospective strikes on India by Pakistan-based terrorist organisations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, which are aided by a Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, he said.
According to him, the withdrawal of Indian forces from Afghanistan harmed the country’s ability to monitor prospective threats and exert influence over regional peace. Despite recommitting to the 2003 ceasefire, India is nevertheless prepared to respond to perceived terrorist threats, according to Lt Gen Berrier, and has resumed counter-terrorism operations in Kashmir. “Occasional skirmishes between Indian and Pakistani troops will persist, and a high-profile attack in India by Pakistan-based terrorists threatens a military reaction from India,” he warned.
Following tragic battles between their respective armies along the Line of Actual Control in summer 2020, Chinese-Indian ties are still strained, according to Lt Gen Berrier (LAC). Both parties had many rounds of high-level diplomatic and military talks in 2021, which culminated in a mutual withdrawal of soldiers from several stalemate points. Both sides, however, have close to 50,000 troops, artillery, tanks, and multiple rocket launchers, and are building infrastructure along the LAC, according to Lt Gen Berrier.