India to Postpone Purchase of Russian S-400 Missile Defense System

 
 

India will delay the purchase of five regimental units of Russian-made S-400 Triumf advanced Air Defense Systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) by at least two years, a senior official within the Indian Ministry of Defense said, according to Defense News.

“Our priority is to clear the global buy of $8.9 billion for Rafale fighters, $1.5 billion for very short range air defense (VSHORAD) man-portable systems and $1.5 billion in short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) systems. There is no money for other foreign purchases,” the senior defense official who requested anonymity explained.

The estimated $4.5 billion defense deal was discussed in the Indian Parliament this week by Indian Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, who gave no indication about an expected delay. In a written reply to an Indian parliamentarian, Parrikar explained that “the five firing units of S-400 LRSAM system are planned for induction in Indian Air Force in 13th plan period (2017-2022).”

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In April, a number of Indian media outlets reported that a contract for the purchase of the S-400 had been signed already. However, Sergey Chemezov, the director-general of Russia’s Rostec State Corporation, was quick to deny that the defense deal had been concluded. “The contract has not yet been signed,” he said, according to TASS.

In his written statement issued on Tuesday, Parrikar elaborated on the rationale behind the procurement of the new missile defense system:

 The Defense Acquisition Council has in its meeting held on 17th December, 2015, accorded approval for purchase of S-400 LRSAM system (Triumf Missile System) along with associated equipment and missiles from Russia.

 S-400 has better performance parameters compared to S-300 on account of (i) maximum and minimum target engagement range, (ii) minimum target engagement altitude, (iii) maximum speed of target engaged, (iv) number of targets engaged simultaneously, (v) maximum radar cross-section of targets engaged, and (vi) deployment time. 

Parrikar still did not reveal what type of missiles India will receive from Russia for the S-400 missile defense system. I explained previously (See: “India Cleared Purchase of Russian S-400 Missile Defense System”):

 The 40N6 missile allegedly has an operational range of 400 kilometers (248.5 miles), although it is unclear whether the weapon is operational in Russia yet. The range of the 48N6 missile is more limited at 250 kilometers (155 miles). The S-400 can purportedly fire three types of missiles at a rate 2.5 times faster than its predecessor the S-300.

Once acquired, India will likely station three S-400 regiments in the West facing Pakistan and two units in the country’s East in close proximity to the Sino-Indian border. China has also ordered six S-400 units and is expecting their delivery within the next 12 months.

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