Defence Minister Rajnath Singh left on June 23 for Russia on a three-day visit where he would be meeting the top Russian political leadership and is expected to update them about the present situation on the Ladakh front where the Chinese Army has done a massive built upon Indian borders. Amid heightened tensions with China over boundary issues, Singh will request Russia to urgently supply spares and associated equipment to India for its main battle tanks, fighter planes, submarines. And he will request the acceleration of the S-400 air defence missiles delivery schedule.

During the visit, the Defence Minister will take up the issue of urgent supply of equipment and spares needed for the Russian-origin fighter aircraft including the Su-30MKIs and MiG-29s of the Air Force and the MiG29Ks of the Indian Navy, the T-90 battle ranks for the Army and the Kilo-class submarines of the Navy along with other warships. The sources said the equipment was earlier supposed to be supplied to India through the sea route but was stuck there for several months due to the COVID-19 situation.

Now the Defence Minister will request them to send these items to us through the air route to get them urgently in the present situation. During the talks with the Russian leaders, the Defence Minister will also ask them to expedite the delivery of the S-400 air defence systems which are supposed to be delivered by the end of 2021. 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, notwithstanding warning from the Trump administration that going ahead with the contract could lead to US sanctions. After the MiG-series plane started getting phased out, the Su-30MKI has become the mainstay of the Indian Air Force.

After the government allowed the armed forces to go in for emergency procurements to do away with shortages of critical equipment, the Indian Army is planning to place an order for acquiring more 155mm Excalibur precision-guided artillery ammunition which can hit targets at 50 km range. The Excalibur ammunition was inducted last year by the Army to acquire the capability to hit enemy positions close to populated areas without causing collateral damage on the western sector under emergency financial powers. There are plans to place new orders for the Excalibur ammunition used by the M777A2 Lightweight Howitzers which can be deployed with ease on high altitude mountains.

The Vice Chiefs of the three services have been given the financial powers to acquire the required weapon systems under fast track procedures needed to fill whatever shortcomings or requirement is felt.