India has made an advance payment to Russia for five squadrons of Russian-made Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf air defense systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) for service in the Indian Air Force (IAF), according to the head of Rostec, Sergey Chemezov.
“The advance payment has been made. I don’t want to specify an exact figure, but there is an advance payment. We have launched production and the work is underway, and everything will be implemented as scheduled. The contract will be fulfilled by 2025,” Chemezov was quoted as saying this week by TASS news agency in an interview on the sidelines of the Dubai Air Show, which is taking place from November 17 to 21.
According to Reuters, the advance payment was in the amount of $800 million. No details have been revealed about the specific payment mechanism. However, India likely paid for the Russian-made weapons systems in euros to a Russia-nominated bank to avoid the threat of U.S. sanctions for purchase under U.S. legislation known as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
CAATSA mandates sanctions on countries engaging in “significant transactions” — defined as any deals above $15 million — with the Russian state-owned defense industry. The U.S. president, however, has the authority to issue a waiver.
“As far as the S-400 deliveries are concerned, everything is going according to plan. Our Indian colleagues have not asked to speed anything up, it’s all going fine,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, was quoted as saying last Thursday a summit of BRICS countries in Brazil, according to Reuters.
Notably, the delivery schedule is not in line with past statements made by senior Indian defense officials.
“The deliveries will commence from October 2020 and will be completed by April 2023,” Indian Minister of State for Defense Subhash Bhamre said in early January in response to a parliamentary question about the defense contract. “The system will provide a very capable air defense coverage to vulnerable areas/vulnerable points.”
India and Russia signed a $5.5 billion contract for the S-400 systems in 2018 during a bilateral summit between the two countries. As I wrote in September, the S-400 is a very capable interceptor-based long-range air defense system:
The S-400 can be armed with a host of different missiles including the air defense system’s most advanced interceptor, the 40N6E, in addition to an improved variant of the 48N6E2, as well as the 9M96E and 9M96E2. It has not been publicly disclosed what missiles Russia will deliver to India along with the transporter erector launchers (TELs), long-range surveillance radar target acquisition and engagement (fire control) radar systems, and command posts to be delivered.
Depending on the missile type, the S-400 can reportedly engage targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers and an altitude of up to 30 kilometers.