India and Russia Make a Deal

(c) K.B. Sherman, 2002

As the US strengthens ties to Pakistan, India is increasingly looking to Russia for weapons and reassurance. As a result, Russia is leasing to India four Tu-22 long-range reconnaissance and ECM aircraft. Developed in 1955, the Tu-22 Blinder was to be a long-range strategic bomber with supersonic dash capabilities, but, as was the US Navy's A-5 Vigilante, was found wanting in an attack role and was soon modified for reconnaissance (Tu-22R, Tu-22RM), air-launched cruise missile platform (Tu-22K), and electronic countermeasures airplane (Tu-22P). As the Tu-22P, the -R's DK-20 tail turret and PRS-3 radar sight system were replaced by SPS-151MD ECM suites, and three sets of flare dispensers were fitted to the landing gear fairings.

The leasing of the Tu-22s is part of a multi-billion dollar Indian military build-up that includes technology transfer for India's PJ-10 cruise missile, plus the purchase of Su-30 fighters, Mi-17 helicopters, over 300 T-90 battle tanks, five submarines, and the 44,000 ton Kiev-class aircraft carrier ex-Admiral Gorshkov.

As part of its military build-up, India is establishing a formal Joint Strategic Command (JSC) to control its nuclear arsenal. To be headquartered in New Delhi, the JCS will oversee all nuclear delivery platforms and is said to plan to include nuclear-capable Su-30s, Agni II ICMBs, Tu-22 bomber/recon aircraft, India's five modern submarines, anti-missile units, and a military satellite system.

It is also reported that India will be taking delivery of up to three A-50 AEW aircraft. Based upon the Il-76 transport airplane, the A-50 typically carries the "Shmel" avionics suite, including a three-dimensional radar with a passive direction finding channel; an information pick-up and display station; active IFF and command targeting; radio command control link; secure communications; and documentation transfer capability. To date, approximately 20 A-50s have been built.

ex-Admiral Gorshkov