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Russian S-400 missile systems in India, Why it is special for India?

Russian S-400 missile systems in India

According to a senior defence official, the third S-400 Triumf self-propelled surface-to-air missile system has been delivered by Russia to the Indian Air Force (IAF). The official further stated that the system is set to be stationed at the western border with Pakistan. India entered into a USD 5.5 billion agreement with Russia in October 2018 to procure five S-400 systems for the IAF.

Russia has already delivered the first two systems to India in December 2021 and April 2022. The remaining two systems are expected to be delivered by the end of 2023 as per the agreed schedule.

The Deal about S-400 Triumph

Following are the features which make the S-400 a popular missile defence system.

  •  It can protect against almost all sorts of aerial attacks, including drones, missiles, rockets and even fighter jets.
  • It can act as a shield over a particular area, also it is a long-range surface-to-air missile system.
  • It has as an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) asset designed to protect military, political, and economic assets from aerial attacks
  • Each unit of S-400  has two batteries, each having a command-and-control system, a surveillance radar, and engagement radar and four lunch trucks.
  • The system is equipped with four types of missiles: short-range up to 40 km; medium-range up to 120 km; long-range 48N6 going as far as 250 km, and very-long-range 40N6E up to 400 km and a flight altitude of 180 km.
  •  According to a recent study, it can simultaneously track up to 160 objects in a 600 km range, and target 72 objects in a 400 km range.

Need for S-400

Indian Air Force needed this system badly as China has introduced the same system in LAC, so To protect against attacks by missiles, or fighter jets from China or Pakistan, it became necessary to buy the S-400 system. A  recent observation mentioned that  “There is no alternative system capable of serving its long-range air defence requirements, from the standpoint of either capability or cost”. The acquisition of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system by India serves several important purposes and addresses key defence needs. Here are some reasons for India’s need for the S-400:

  1. Air Defense Capability: The S-400 is a highly advanced air defence system that provides India with a robust and effective defence against aerial threats, including enemy aircraft, missiles, and drones. It enhances India’s air defence capabilities and helps protect critical assets, military installations, and population centres.
  2. Long-Range Coverage: The S-400 has a long-range capability, with the ability to detect and track targets at extended distances. This allows India to monitor and respond to potential threats from a greater range, providing an early warning system and increased reaction time.
  3. Multiple Target Engagement: The S-400 is capable of simultaneously engaging multiple targets, including aircraft, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles. This multi-target engagement capability strengthens India’s ability to defend against multiple threats in real-time.
  4. Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD): The S-400 system helps establish an anti-access/area denial zone, limiting the adversary’s ability to operate freely in Indian airspace. It acts as a deterrent and enhances India’s defensive posture, making it more challenging for potential adversaries to carry out offensive operations.
  5. Technology Transfer: The acquisition of the S-400 system involves technology transfer from Russia to India. This helps in building indigenous defense capabilities, developing expertise in advanced missile defense systems, and fostering research and development in the field of air defense.
  6. Strategic Partnership: The procurement of the S-400 system strengthens the defense ties between India and Russia, two longstanding strategic partners. It further enhances the cooperation and defense collaboration between the two countries, contributing to the overall security of the region.

The US Factor

The purchase of the S-400 System by India from Russia was not welcomed by the US as the US wants India to wean off its traditional reliance on Russian defence systems, US and India are coming closer both diplomatically and strategically hence US want India to purchase its defence supplies from the US only.

The major reason for US concern is the 2017 law ” Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)”. The Act empowers the US President to impose at least five of the 12 listed sanctions mentioned in Section 235 on nations who engage in a “significant transaction” with Russian defence and intelligence sectors. Whether the US will impose sanctions on India, time will tell.

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What is the S-400 Triumf missile system?

The S-400 Triumf, also known as the SA-21 Growler, is a highly advanced long-range surface-to-air missile system developed by Russia. It is designed to provide effective air defense against various aerial threats, including aircraft, missiles, and drones.

Why did India acquire the S-400 system?

India acquired the S-400 system to address its defense needs and enhance its air defense capabilities. The system offers long-range coverage, multiple target engagement capabilities, and the ability to establish an anti-access/area denial zone. It serves as a deterrent and strengthens India's defensive posture.

How many S-400 systems has India acquired?

India has signed a deal with Russia to acquire five S-400 Triumf missile systems. The first two systems were delivered in December 2021 and April 2022, respectively. The remaining two systems are expected to be delivered by the end of 2023.

Where will the S-400 systems be deployed in India?

The S-400 systems are planned to be deployed at strategic locations in India, including the western border with Pakistan. These deployments aim to strengthen India's air defense capabilities and protect its territories. The initial deployment of two squadrons of the S-400 Triumf missile system has been made to secure the Ladakh sector, safeguard the sensitive Chicken's Neck corridor in West Bengal, and fortify the entire northeastern region of India.

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