India strengthens its air defense with delivery of new S-400

NEW DELHI ($1=82.87 Indian Rupees) — To date, India has two batteries of S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems. Sources in the Asian country say they are now operationally ready. They are positioned to counter a Chinese threat. I.e. the two S-400s are deployed in such a way that they cover the northeastern sector with China.

Russia and Turkey discuss the supply of an additional batch of S-400 missile system
Photo credit: AFP

However, India will increase its anti-aircraft capabilities. A third S-400 anti-aircraft missile system is expected by the end of the first quarter. It is said that by the end of February, Moscow should actually deliver the S-400 to New Delhi by air. Such are the terms of the treaty, say the Indian side, confirming that Russia is strictly fulfilling its obligations under it.

Indian media reported that at the end of the year, Indian experts had already visited the plants of Almaz-Antey – the manufacturer of the missile system. They inspected the finishing works upon completion of their production. Indian Air Force personnel reportedly accompanied the Indian delegation to Russia.

The first two S-400 batteries have already registered participation. Although it was not in real combat, the exercises in which the air defense systems participated showed excellent effectiveness. Purchasing the S-400, India believes that these systems will have a serious deterrent effect on potential Chinese missile threats.

The deal between Russia and India for the purchase of the S-400 was signed way back in 2018. India agreed to pay the requested $5.4 billion. Around this time, the US tried to influence India’s decision. Washington threatened New Delhi that this deal could trigger CAATSA sanctions.

India strengthens its air defense with delivery of new S-400
Video screenshot

India did not flinch at the threats. The US also took no action on sanctions. Perhaps Washington’s passivity towards the Asian country lies in the fact that India allowed the US Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter to participate in the tender for a new combat aircraft to serve the Indian aircraft carrier Vikrant.

Experts say that the American warplane has a very high chance of winning the auction. There are several reasons, the main one being that Boeing managed to modify the F/A-18 Super Hornet to take off from a short runway shaped like a ski run. It is such a design that the aircraft carrier Vikrant follows. In this way, Washington has the chance to displace the long-standing dominance of the Russian MiG-29. Another reason for Washington not attacking New Delhi with sanctions is that India has issued a license to Boeing to sell the F-15EX in the Indian market.

The S-400 air defense system has impressive characteristics. It is believed to be the best long-range air defense system in the world capable of successfully combating cruise and ballistic missiles. The maximum range of the system is 400 km, while the minimum range is 2 km. It is believed that the S-400 is most effective against ballistic missiles at a distance of 60 km.

The S-400 can be deployed extremely quickly – between 5 and 15 minutes. This system is capable of sequentially firing two interceptor missiles at a single target. One of the distinguishing features of the S-400 is that, in addition to air targets, it can easily be modified as an attack system for ground targets. This greatly depends on the type of missile and its warhead.

In addition to intercepting cruise and ballistic missiles, the S-400 is designed to combat other air threats as well. The B-1, FB-111, and B-52H strategic bombers are listed as targets for interception. To this list, we can safely add some electronic warfare aircraft, such as the EF-111A, and EA-6.

India has deployed a quick-reaction air defense system to the Ladakh
Photo credit: AMN

Enemy fighters are also targets of the S-400. The F-15 and F-16 are often listed as potential easy targets. Sources say the S-400 is the world’s first system capable of intercepting stealth technology, making America’s fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighter vulnerable. At the moment, however, as far as the F-35 is concerned, it remains only a statement, since there is no evidence of such an interception.

However, we can conclude that the possibility of the F-35 being intercepted by the S-400 should not be excluded. The main technical reason the US used against Turkey to kick the Balkan country out of the F-35 program was precisely the fear that the Russians would get sensitive information about the F-35’s stealth technology.

Apart from India, Russia, Turkey, Belarus, and China are the current operators of the S-400. It is said that several other countries are showing interest in acquiring it, including Serbia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and Qatar.

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