S-400 Air Defence System

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    • Russia has started supplying S-400 air defence system to India, and the first division will be delivered by the end of 2021

    Background

    • US$ 5 billion deal: India has contracted five S-400 Triumf (NATO designation SA-21 Growler) regiments from Russia under a $5.43 billion deal signed in October 2018.
    • Delivery was originally slated to begin in 24 months by the end of 2020 but was slightly delayed due to late payments as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Already available with China: It has deployed it along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.
    • Upgrade of the S-300 System: The S-400 is an upgrade of the S-300 surface-to-air missile system and can detect the target from up to 600 km. 

    What is the S-400 system?

    • Surface-to-air missile: The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system.
    • Capable of handling multiple objects: It is capable of simultaneously tracking numerous incoming objects including aircraft, missiles and UAVs in a radius of a few hundred kilometres and launching appropriate missiles to neutralise them.
    • Radars: It has radars that can pick up an incoming object up to a distance of 1,000 kilometres, track several dozen incoming objects simultaneously, distribute the targets to missile systems and ensure a high success rate.
    • Range of targets: S-400 has been specifically designed to detect and destroy a range of targets including strategic bombers, aircraft used for electronic warfare, early warning, and reconnaissance; and even fighter jets such as F-16 and F-22.
    • Deployment: The IAF will start focusing on the eastern borders along with providing resources for training personnel within the country after the first squadron is deployed.

    Image: The Hindu

    Significance of S-400 for India

    • The S-400 fills important gaps in India’s national air defence network and would complement India’s indigenous Ballistic Missile Defence system developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation.
    • Handling a two-front threat: S-400 will be a game-changer once inducted and will also partly make up for the dwindling fighter strength of the force especially in the backdrop of growing two-front threat from China and Pakistan.
    • Russia is also developing a more capable S-500 air defence system.

    Possible implications on India

    • Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA): It would be surprising to see how the United States will react to the delivery of the S-400 to India as in the past US had indicated this could be considered as a significant transaction under its Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) and that it could attract sanctions. However, India is expecting a waiver from the United States.
      • Example of Turkey: Following US sanctions on Turkey over the procurement of S-400 missile systems, there have been apprehensions that the US may impose similar punitive measures on India.

    What is CAATSA?

    • US law to impose sanctions: CAATSA is a tough US law that authorises the administration to impose sanctions 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.
    • Sanctions targeting Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors: Its provisions include sanctions targeting Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors, serving as an important tool for the US government to discourage Russian arms purchases around the world.
    • Imposed on various countries: It has been imposed on Iran, Russia and North Korea.

    Indo-Russia Defence ties 

    • Defence trade between India and Russia was $15 billion in the last three years because of several big-ticket deals.
    • Few big pending deals: On the defence front, which is a major pillar of cooperation, few big pending deals are lined for the conclusion which includes Ka-226T utility helicopters, Ak-203 assault rifles and Igla-S Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) systems.
    • Emergency procurement: India recently made an emergency procurement of the Igla-S systems and signed a deal for off the shelf procurement of 70,000 Ak-103 assault rifles.
    • Russian Origin Weapon Systems in India: Nuclear submarine INS Chakra, 
      • Kilo-class conventional submarine, 
      • Brahmos cruise missile, 
      • MiG 21/27/29 and Su-30 MKI fighters, 
      • Mi-series of helicopters, and 
      • Vikramaditya aircraft carrier

    Other Missile systems

    Source: IE