IAF chief hopes S-400 deal will sail through

New Delhi,   With the punitive US law CAATSA looming large over the Indo-Russian S-400 missile deal, Air Force chief B.S. Dhanoa on Wednesday said that he expected the deal to sail through “as and when the government clears it”.

“The negotiations are over and it is with the government now. I don’t think that CAATSA is likely to come in the way. But the decision belongs to the government,” the Air Chief Marshal said a day ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2-day visit to India.

Putin will hold a bilateral meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 5 and the over Rs 40,000 crore S-400 Triumf air defence system is likely to be top on the agenda.

Media reported Putin’s top foreign policy aide Yury Ushakov as saying on Tuesday that the S-400 deal was very much likely to be signed during President Putin’s visit to India.

Dhanoa said S-400 would be like a “booster shot” in the IAF’s arm.

India has been treading cautiously on the deal, which it has been discussing with Russia since 2015, amid US objections and threats of sanctions if India went ahead with the purchase of surface-to-air S-400 missile system.

Congressman Mac Thornberry, the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee that oversees the US Department of Defense, has said there was “concern” in the US that the deal would complicate matters as far as “ability to work on inter-operability” was concerned.

The US last year passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSA that mandates the US administration to punish countries engaging in major transactions with Russia, Iran and North Korea.

However, the US Congress has now passed a law granting waiver to some countries. India is expecting to be a beneficiary of the waiver. But the US President has to personally certify the deal for a waiver.