S-400 is considered the one air defence system that has come closest to neutralising F-35 fighters

NEW DELHI: India will send a high-level technical team to the United States to understand Washington’s concerns on how India intends to secure sophisticated American-origin weapons alongside equally-capable Russian systems.

ET has reliably gathered that the decision to send a team, comprising of senior armed forces officials among others, was made after Washington officially raised concerns over its highly advanced military equipment being exposed to the Russian origin S-400 air defence system.

India is expecting a US waiver under the new CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) to purchase this system from Russia.

This issue is also likely to come up in India-US deliberations ahead of the 2+2 dialogue in September when US secretary of state Mike Pompeo will be here with secretary of defence James Mattis to hold talks with external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman. The problem for the US arises from the fear that digital codes could either be compromised or cracked since the Indian armed forces have military platforms sourced from different countries, particularly Russia.

India believes these fears are unfounded, said an official. It’s not as if Russia doesn’t have a similar set of concerns. Russia’s deputy defence minister wrote to India’s defence minister last year objecting to American officers — part of an India-US aircraft group— visiting INS Vikramaditya.

India purchased the aircraft carrier after an expensive refit from Russia, where it was earlier called Admiral Gorshkov.

US House Armed Forces Committee head Mac Thornberry, who was in India recently, had also voiced similar concerns.

Despite that, Capitol Hill has come up with a single CAATSA Bill, reconciling the versions of the Senate and the House. This leaves room for waiver for countries such as India and Indonesia as long as technical requirements are met and the White House is able to determine a lesser dependence by India on Russian equipment.

The concern over integration of US systems with Russian equipment remains.

Pentagon, a source told ET, is particularly worried about the F-35 aircraft, which the US may offer to India in the long run.

The S-400 is considered the one air defence system that has come closest to neutralising F-35 fighters. Similarly, the prospective US sale of armed version of the Sea Guardian drone could also run into a web of similar questions.

New Delhi, however, has underplayed these doubts, saying it’s unlikely for any of this to happen. It pointed out that India has only agreed to hear out US’ concerns, which should not be misread as an acknowledgement and admittance of US concerns.

India has also asked for iron-clad assurance on the reliability of supplies if it signs the COMCASA (Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement).