S-400 Air Defence System

 This is a guest blog by Leander. (No Frills Academy)

Introduction

 S-400 Triumf is one of the world’s most advanced air defence systems that can simultaneously track numerous incoming objects — all kinds of aircraft, missiles and UAVs — in a radius of a few hundred km and launch appropriate missiles to neutralize them. India needs this equipment to strengthen its defence. US is against India buying Russian equipment. The subject has been analysed in this blog.

Technical Specifications:

 The S-400 Triumph air defence system integrates a multi-function radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control centre. It is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.

The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles within 400 km, at an altitude of up to 30 km. The system can simultaneously engage 36 targets.

The S-400 is two-times more effective than previous Russian air defence systems and can be deployed within five minutes. It can also be integrated into the existing and future air defence units of the Air Force, Army, and the Navy.

 The S-400 air defence missile system uses four new missile types in addition to the missiles of the S-300PMU system. The first missile inducted for the system was the 48N6DM (48N6E3). It is an improved variant of the 48N6M with powerful propulsion system. The missile can destroy airborne targets within the range of 250 km.

The 40N6 missile of the S-400 has a claimed range of 400km and uses active radar homing to intercept aerial targets at great distances. It can be launched against AWACS, J-STARS, EA-6B support jammers and other high-value targets.

The S-400 Triumph also launches 9M96E and 9M96E2 medium range ground-to-air missiles. Designed for direct impact, the missiles can strike fast moving targets such as fighter aircraft with a high hit probability. The maximum range of the 9M96 missile is 120km.

 The command post is equipped with LCD consoles to process the air space surveillance data of the individual batteries. It controls and monitors long-range surveillance radar, tracks airborne threats, prioritize the threats, and coordinate other batteries.

The radar can detect and track aircraft, rotor-crafts, cruise missiles, guided missiles, drones and ballistic rockets within 600 km. It can simultaneously track up to 300 targets.

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Complements Existing Equipment

India has the following AD equipment and S 400 fits in well with them.

 Akash: Is actually a medium range SAM. It is optimized to provide air defence to armored corps. Akash is actually an improved version of Soviet SA-6 missile systems. It has a range of 30 Km and altitude of 18 km.

 PAD: Prithvi Air Defence System. This is a high altitude interceptor. it is designed to intercept targets at more than 30 km high. It is designed with ballistic missiles in mind.  

With other missiles and missile defense systems either nearing the end of their service life of not being able to meet the range as well as impenetrability requirements of the armed forces, inducting the S400 platform makes a lot of sense. 

Reasons Against S400 Deal:

 Cost:As compared to the price China payed for an identical missile defence system from Russia, India is paying 7 Billion USD more. The serviceability of Russian equipment has also come under question after a number of Russian fighters have crashed in the past few years.

 US Sanctions :The US has imposed sanctions on Russia for its annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which means any country that engages in defence or intelligence sharing with Russia could also be subject to sanctions.

China also having S400:China purchased the same system in 2013 and has currently deployed around 2 regiments of this missile defence system. But with a minor exception, as China is not a part of the MTCR, Russia could not export China the 40N6 missile . The radar and the other systems still remain the same, so this could pose a threat for India.

Conclusion

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently said the negotiations for the S-400 were in a “conclusive stage.” India’s decision to buy Russia’s S-400 missile system has left the US uncomfortable. The US had made it fairly clear that defence ties between India and the US could be impacted if New Delhi goes ahead with the purchase of S-400 air defence systems.India will go ahead with its purchase from Russia despite the possibility of sanctions looming large. On one hand, India wants these missiles to strengthen defence capabilities, but at the same time does not want to sour relations with the US. India is hopeful that the Russia being a major arms exported to India as well as the Indian Armed forces already being adapted to Russian equipment should be a reason enough to resist any pressure put on India by the USA. Thus with the wide range of protection offered by being one of the best missile defence systems in the world, the purchase of S400 will benefit India in a huge way.

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