India and Russia have still not concluded a final contract for the procurement of four to five regiments of Russian-made S-400 Triumf advanced Air Defense Systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) intended for service in the Indian Army.
Russian defense officials remain optimistic over the prospects of a successful conclusion of a final agreement in the near future. One Russian official said that negotiations were “at a very advanced stage” without offering additional details. “We hope that the S-400 deal will be signed with India soon,” Vice-Premier Dmitry Rogozin said on Russian television on December 27, TASS news agency reports.
In February 2017, Deputy Director of Russia’s Federal Service for Military and Technical Cooperation Vladimir Drozhzhov said that he expects the final contract to be signed by the end of last year. In addition, the head of Russian arms exporter Rosoboronexport, Alexander Mikheyev noted in June 2017 that the signing of a final contract was imminent.
“Rosoboronexport is carrying out pre-contractual work with Indian partners. We are discussing the technical issues of the deliveries. I can assure you that both our company and the Indian side are set to sign the contract soon,” he said at the time.
India and Russia signed an inter-governmental agreement for the purchase of the S-400s in Goa, India in October 2016 during the eight BRICS summit (See: “India and Russia Ink S-400 Missile Air Defense System Deal”). The agreement was signed in the presence of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The total contract value is estimated at $4.5 billion.
The S-400 is one of the most capable missile air defense systems in the world. It can engage stand-off jammer and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft, as well as both ballistic and cruise missiles. One S-400 regiment is usually divided up into two battalions with each battalion consisting of eight launchers armed with up to 32 missiles. As I explained elsewhere:
In comparison to its predecessor, the S-300, the S-400 air defense system features an improved radar system and updated software; it can purportedly can fire four new types of surface-to-air (SAM) missiles in addition to the S-300’s 48N6E, a vertical tube launched, solid fuel, single stage SAM with an estimated range of 150 kilometers (93 miles), and the improved 48N6E2 missile with a reported range of 195 kilometers (121 miles).
One of the S-400’s new missiles is the so-called 40N6 SAM with an estimated operational range of 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) and an altitude of up to 185 kilometers (607,000 feet). The missile is reportedly capable of exo-atmospheric interception of intermediate-range ballistic missile warheads in their terminal phase. However, it is unclear whether the weapon is operational in Russia yet and no images of the 40N6 SAM have surfaced so far.
The S-400 is also armed with an improved variant of the 48N6E2 with an alleged range of 250 kilometers (160 miles). The air defense system can also fire two additional missiles, the 9M96E and 9M96E2 with respective ranges of 40 km (25 miles) and 120 km (75 miles). Improved S-300 air defense systems such as the S-300PMU-2 Favorite (sold to Iran), can purportedly also fire the 9M96E and 9M96E2. The S-400 can purportedly fire missiles at a rate 2.5 times faster than its predecessor, the S-300.
According to sources within the Indian MoD, three S-400 regiments are slated to be stationed in the west of India facing Pakistan, and two regiments in the east in close proximity to the Sino-Indian border. However, the final number of regiments can still change as Indian officials have so far not publicly commented on details of the Indo-Russian defense deal.