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How S-400 is a game changer for India's ballistic defence

New Delhi will first have to stave off US attempts to stall the $5.5 billion Indo-Russian S-400 deal as Washington is reportedly waving the CAATSA in India’s face. New Delhi should not bow to US pressure 

November 17, 2021 / 05:42 PM IST
Russian S-400 on display in Moscow (File image: Reuters)

Russian S-400 on display in Moscow (File image: Reuters)

India’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 (Triumf) mobile air defence missile system could not have happened sooner, given the cold peace prevailing in the region. Stuck in a not-so-friendly neighbourhood, India’s best bet to maintain strategic stability is to bulwark its defences — and a robust air defence system (ADS) is intrinsic to this.

Reports suggest that the first unit of the S-400 system will be delivered to India by the end of this year with four more units to arrive in batches later on. Developed by Russia’s Almaz Central Design Bureau, the S-400 is a long-range surface to air missile (SAM) system designed to engage both aerial and ballistic targets, including intruding aircraft, remotely piloted vehicle (RPVs), and cruise missiles. Each S-400 is actually a multi-platform complex with two batteries, independent command-and-control systems, a surveillance radar, an engagement radar, and up to four launch trucks that are used to transport, erect, and launch the SAMs.

Superior Defence

The S-400’s advanced radar system and onboard sensors enable it to fire four different types of missiles: the 40 kilometre range 9M96E, the 120 kilometre range 9M96E2, the 250 kilometre range 48N6, and the 400 kilometre range 40N6E. Contrast this with the vaunted US Patriot system which has just one interceptor missile with a range of 96 km.