India signed a deal with Russia to purchase 5 squadrons of S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile. During the visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India, the deal was signed to purchase the missile system for $5.20 billion (₹40,000 crore). It is one of the biggest defence deals that India has ever made.
The S-400 missile is one of the most powerful surface-to-missiles in the world, which has been dubbed as the “one of the best air-defence systems currently made”. The missile is system is made of three main components, the missile launcher, a powerful radar system, and a command centre. The system can intercept bombers, fighter jets, drones, missiles and destroy them in the air. The system has a range of 400 km, which means airborne threats can be attacked inside the enemy country itself. Even advanced jets with stealth technology find it difficult to escape from the system’s cutting-edge radar system. The missile system can track 300 targets and engage dozens of them at the same time.
The negotiation to purchase the missile system is going on for several years after Defence Acquisition Council had approved the acquisition in 2015. The missile system consists of four different missiles to cover the entire range. The very-long-range missile 40N6 (400 km), the long-range 48N6 (250 km), the medium-range 9M96E2 (120 km) and the short-range 9M96E (40 km). As the cost the system is very high, former defence minister Manohar Parrikar had ordered a review of the system. After the review, it was determined that India does not need the shorter-range missiles. Therefore, long-term acquisition plan for over 100 each Medium and Short range systems was cut down. Due to this cut, India will be saving ₹ 49,300 crore over the next decade in the purchase of the system.
Other than the high cost, another factor that was coming in the way of the deal was opposition from the United States of America. The US has been threatening of sanctions against India if the deal is inked. According to the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) of the USA, US government is required to impose sanctions against any country that has “significate translations” with Russia, North Korea and Iran.
The missile system will be a big boost for India’s defence, as both Pakistan and China have acquired significant air power. Pakistan has F-16 jets from the USA and JF-17 Thunder from China. China has a huge collection of advanced military aircraft, which includes Chinese made planes and planes imported from Russia. China has also ordered for six S-400 missile systems from Russia.