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S-400 squadron deployed in Punjab

The S-400 is equipped with targeting systems, multifunction radar, autonomous detection, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers and a command/control centre

The Indian Air Force (IAF) deployed on 20 December the first squadron of Russia-made S-400 system in the Punjab sector, giving a boost to the country’s air defence capabilities. “The first squadron is being deployed in the Punjab sector. The batteries of the first squadron would be capable of taking care of aerial threats from both Pakistan and China,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.

Earlier, right after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India, Foreign Secretary Harsh V Shringla had announced that Russia had started delivering the surface-to-air long-range system.

During Putin’s day-long visit, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov praised the S-400 air defence systems deal between his country and India, saying the United States tried to strong-arm India into opting out of the pact but New Delhi went through anyway.

The US, which is another defence partner of India, disapproves of the S-400 deal but India contended that the negotiations began years before Countering America’s Adversaries Through Act (CAATSA) was enacted.

A purchase agreement was signed in 2015 and a deal worth $ 4.5 billion was finalised in 2018. The US tried to stop it with counteroffers of its rival Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAD) and Patriot systems. It was an offer that came too late.

The US uses the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Act (CAATSA) to impose sanctions on countries that have economic and defence ties to Russia, North Korea and Iran. It used the law to earlier sanction trade partner China and Nato ally Turkey for purchasing the S-400 systems.

The CAATSA is a tough US law that authorises the administration to impose on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.

The US had said in November that it is yet to determine whether it would waive those with respect to the deal between India and Russia.

The S-400 air defence system was contracted for by India in a deal worth around Rs 35,000 crore and five squadrons would be provided to India for tacking air threats from up to 400 km.

The S-400 missile defence system is equipped with four different missiles which can engage enemy aircraft, ballistic missiles, and AWACS planes at 400 km, 250 km, the medium-range 120 km and the short-range 40 km.

IAF officers and personnel have trained in Russia on the system.

What brings to India

The S-400 Triumph (NATO reporting name) is a complex air defence missile system, consisting of radars, control systems and different types of missiles. It was developed in the 1990s by Russia’s Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 series of surface-to-air missile systems. It has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2007. 

The S-400 air defence system is equipped with targeting systems, multifunction radar, autonomous detection, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers and a command and control centre.

It is capable of engaging aerial targets, including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), ballistic and cruise missiles, within the range of 400km at an altitude of up to 30km and can fire three types of missiles to create a layered defence. 

The system is said to be able to simultaneously engage 36 targets and if we compare S-400 to S-300, the upgraded and advanced version has four new different types of missiles from short-range (40km) to very long-range (400km). 

The command post, which is equipped with LCD consoles that process the air space surveillance data, control and monitor long-range surveillance radar. It tracks airborne threats and also prioritises the threats. 

The radar can detect and track aircraft, rotorcraft, cruise missiles, guided missiles, drones and ballistic rockets within the distance of 600km reportedly. 

The system was specifically designed to detect and destroy highly advanced fighter jets such as F-16 and F-22 and missiles such as Tomahawk.

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