What is the S-400 air defence missile system?
- The S-400 Triumf, (NATO calls it SA-21 Growler), is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.
- It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
- The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km.
- The system can track 100 airborne targets and engage six of them simultaneously.
- The S-400’s mission set and capabilities are roughly comparable to the famed US Patriot system.
- The S-400 can also be integrated into the existing and future air defence units of the Air Force, Army, and the Navy.
- India and Russia signed a $5 billion contract for the procurement of S-400 air defense systems during the 2018 annual bilateral summit. India is set to get the consignment of the S-400 air defence system soon.
Why does India need it?
- From India’s point of view, China is also buying the system. In 2015, Beijing signed an agreement with Russia to purchase six battalions of the system. Its delivery began in January 2018.
- China’s acquisition of the S-400 system has been viewed as a “game changer” in the region. However, its effectiveness against India is limited. According to experts, even if stationed right on the India-China border and moved into the Himalaya mountains, Delhi would be at the limit of its range.
- India’s acquisition is crucial to counter attacks in a two-front war, including even high-end F-35 US fighter aircraft.
Why in News?
- As India prepares to receive the first batch of S-400 long-range air defence system by year-end, the first group of Indian military specialists are scheduled to depart for Moscow soon to undergo training courses on the S-400.
- S-400 supplies initiative is one of the flagship projects in the Russian-Indian military and military-technical cooperation, which historically constitutes the main pillar of the special and privileged strategic partnership between the two friendly countries.