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S-400 Triumf Missile System

  • 21 Jan 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

The first group of Indian military specialists are scheduled to depart for Moscow (Russia) soon to undergo training courses on the S-400 Triumf missile defence system.

Key Points

  • Background:
  • About the S-400 Triumf Missile System:
    • The S-400 Triumf 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.
  • Significance for India:
    • From India’s point of view, China is also buying the system. In 2015, China 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.
    • India’s acquisition is crucial to counter attacks in a two-front war, including even high-end F-35 US fighter aircraft.

India Russia Defence Cooperation

  • Important Pillar:
    • Defence cooperation is an important pillar of the India-Russia strategic partnership.
  • Regular Meetings:
    • The two Defence Ministers meet annually, alternately in Russia and India, to discuss and review the status of ongoing projects and other issues of military technical cooperation.
    • In 2008, the High Level Monitoring Committee (HLMC) was set up with Defence Secretary from the Ministry of Defence (India) and Director of Federal Service for Military Technical Cooperation (FSMTC - Russia) as its co-chairs.
  • Downturn:
    • While India and Russia’s economic relationship has been a weak point in the post-Cold War period, the US emerged as the top arms supplier to India, pushing Russia to the second position based on data for the years 2011-13.
  • Current Scenario:
    • The low of 2013-14 has since been corrected and the crucial deal of S-400 Triumf Air Defence Missile System was initiated despite fears of sanctions under CAATSA.
    • As India has been spreading its supplier base with Israel, US and France, Russia still remains a major supplier. This is indicated by following latest developments:
      • India has approved proposals to acquire Mig29 and Su30 MKI fighter aircraft from Russia for 2.4 billion USD.
      • The two sides are successfully moving towards the implementation of a AK-203 rifle contract and 200 Ka-226T utility helicopters supplies.
    • According to a paper published by Stimson Center, 86% of the equipment, weapons and platforms currently in military service in India are of Russian origin.
  • From Imports to Joint Production:
    • Over the years, cooperation in the military technical sphere has evolved from a purely buyer-seller relationship to joint research, design development and production of state of the art military platforms.
  • Joint Exercises:
    • Exercise INDRA, is a joint, tri services exercise between India and Russia.
  • Russia's Military Equipment Deployed by India:
    • Navy:
      • The Navy's only active aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya is from Russia. A nuclear attack submarine Chakra II is also in service.
    • Army:
      • Army’s T-90 and T-72 main battle tanks.
    • Air Force:
      • IAF’s Su30 MKI fighter.


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