India all set to buy world's most advanced missile defence system from its 'all-weather friend' Russia

Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar left for Moscow on 30 October for a three-day visit before he travels to Malaysia for the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM-Plus). The takeaway from this trip, however, is the fact that all measures are in place for India to acquire the world's most advanced anti-ballistic missile system — the S-400.

Previously known as S-300PMU-3, S-400 is a new generation anti-aircraft weapon system developed by Russia's Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family. It is currently in service with the Russian Armed Forces.

The S-400 is designed to protect nuclear reactors, population centres and government installations. The system can also deflect enemy missile more than 400 km away. NDTV, however, reported that the total cost of the acquisition is not known yet.

India all set to buy worlds most advanced missile defence system from its all-weather friend Russia

A file picture of S-400. Image source: Wikipedia

The S-400 basically has three kinds of missiles, with different capabilities, that can fly at supersonic and hypersonic speeds to intercept all kinds of targets at ranges from 120 to 400 km. Russian experts even proclaim that the S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) system can “radar lock and shoot down” stealth fifth-generation fighters like the American F-35 jets.

The S-400 Triumf is capable of countering all air attack weapons, including tactical and strategic aircraft, ballistic missiles and hypersonic targets such as the US F-35 fighter jet. The S-400 can engage up to 36 targets simultaneously with as many as 72 missiles at altitudes of five meters to 30 km.

Elaborating on the agenda during his visit to Moscow, Parrikar told Russian news agency TASS that he hopes to finalise the S-400 deal before PM Narendra Modi visits Russia in December this year.

“They may not take a final shape during my visit but we’d like to prepare some of them for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Russia in December — for example, the project for joint production of Kamov Ka-226 helicopters… Also, the purchase of S-400 missile systems. We anticipate these projects to be coordinated by next month,” Parrikar was quoted by TASS as saying.

The deal comes around a year after China sealed a $3 billion deal with Russia for the acquisition of six S-400 batteries. China is slated to get the S-400 batteries, which is designated 'SA-21 Growler' by Nato and rivals the anti-ballistic missile capabilities of the US Patriot PAC-3 system, from 2017 onwards, PTI reported.

Parrikar's visit to Russia and clinching this deal might seem as an attempt by India to plug the holes in its airspace surveillance and defence network with progressive induction of a wide array of sensors and weapons.

Parrikar's visit comes as the government's Defence Acquisition Council cleared defence projects worth more than Rs 15,000 crores, Zee News reported.

India-Russia military technical cooperation has evolved from a simple buyer-seller framework to one involving joint research, development and production of advanced defence technologies and systems.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, in an interview to TASS, Parrikar said the India-Russia relationship should be enhanced. "I have always seen Russia as an all-weather friend for India - the two countries have always had a great relationship. I believe that this relationship should be enhanced. My visit to Moscow will be an attempt to help the relationship blossom further," IANS reported Parrikar as saying.

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Updated Date: Oct 31, 2015 08:57:03 IST

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