India to buy the powerful Russian S-400 missile system

The S-400 system is an improvement over the S-300PMU2 and hence is even more potent with a very high power aperture performance.

As per the recent statement of the Indian Air Force Chief B.S Dhanoa, India will buy the powerful Russian made S-400 Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system. The S-400 is a long range air defence system and can be compared to the US Patriot PAC-3. The Chief mentioned that India will be procuring five units in total and that the contract will be signed in this financial year and the deliveries are to begin two years after the contract.

The S-400 will fulfil India’s long range air defence requirements in the future. At the moment, air defence cover is one of the serious deficiencies in our defence preparedness. It is learnt that, against Pakistan, India has at least devoted some air defence radars and SAM units though might not be completely adequate. However, against the Chinese front there are serious gaps in coverage. Military installations like air bases in the north eastern sector are only provided with very old systems which should have been decommissioned years ago.

Long range early warning radar coverage is also said to be insufficient in addition to the air defence missile systems of various ranges. Only recently the government seems to be taking some measures to address this shortage. As per the air chief, India will be inducting new SAM systems in the near future. India is buying the Israeli QR-SAM Spyder system which will address the short and medium range requirements in addition to the indigenous medium range Akash SAM system to protect its vital facilities.

The addition of the S-400, Spyder and Akash SAMs would enable a layered, defence in depth air defence coverage. The S-400 is believed to be the world’s most powerful LR-SAM in its class. Though it has never been tested in actual combat, field trials have demonstrated the capability of the system. During the Iran nuclear crisis, both United States & Israel tried to stop Russia from selling the S-300 system to Iran. Given the advanced nature of the system, it would have removed any chance for Israel or the US to carry out an air strike on the Islamic republic’s nuclear facilities. The S-400 system is an improvement over the S-300PMU2 and hence is even more potent with a very high power aperture performance.

China too has purchased the S-400 system from Russia in addition to the S-300 variants. PRC has also deployed the indigenous S-300 clone HQ-9 SAM systems. Some reports indicate that Russia offered the S-300 and S-400 first to India before selling it to China and that the offer was turned down by the Indian government. The S-400 comes in multiple configuration with different types of sensors and interceptors. It is not known if India is buying the full complement of systems covering all modes or only the most needed elements per unit. The S-400 being a mobile system, can be moved to different locations based on the threat scenario.

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