India might buy new Russian BuK-M3 ‘Viking’ air defence system

NEW DELHI, (BM) – Following the signing of a $5.43 billion contract in October 2018 under which India would acquire five regiments of the Russian S-400 surface to air missile system, the Indian armed forces have reportedly looked to acquire short and medium range systems to integrate into the system’s network to provide a more capable defence against air and missile attacks.

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Russia has recently developed two medium ranged systems with comparable roles, the S-350 and the BuK-M3, neither of which have been exported. Both of these systems are highly mobile and retain engagement ranges under a third that of the S-400, but can deploy more missiles per launcher and provide an effective complement to the larger system.

While the S-400 fields over half a dozen classes of surface to air missile already, and is capable of providing a multi layered defence without the support of complementary systems, the deployment of platforms such as the S-350 or BuK-M3 would further improve defences – particularly against specialised electronic attack and anti radiation missiles which are intended to neutralise the S-400.

Russia is reportedly seeking to market the BuK-M3 to India as its first client, and will display the platform at DefExpo India 2020 in early February. Over 1,000 companies from almost 70 countries will participate at the expo, with many seeking access to the markets of the world’s largest arms importer.

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Almaz-Antey, the Russia state company which manufactures both the BuK-M3 and the S-400, announced plans to display the system including its new 9M317ME surface to air missile. In addition, the company will present other offerings including the S-400, S-300F, S-300V4 and multiple variants of the Tor air defence systems.

India already deploys an older navalised variant fo the BuK system, although the BuK-M3 fields several revolutionary capabilities. Dubbed ‘Viking’ in its export variants, the platform is the first in the series to integrate a vertical launch system and can track and engage up to 36 targets simultaneously.

Like its predecessors, the system makes use of a tracked launch vehicle and is highly mobile – with mobility on this variant improved by a faster setup time. The platform is also capable of engaging low flying targets and land based naval surface targets, and has a maximum range of 130km – slightly longer than the S-350 and even many older variants of the S-300.

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Like most Russian medium ranged air defence systems, the platforms’ command post can integrate with other radars and air defence systems – including those of foreign origin – to form a multi layered network.

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Source: Military Watch