Indian defense deals have always been problematic with biggest of controversies emerging from it. This is the very reason for Defence ministers to shy away from executing a defense deal. The procurement is often placed on the back burner, eventually hurting the defense preparedness and national security. In the year 2014, a change was perceived as far as defense procurement is concerned. From the basic bullet proof vest to the heavy lift helicopter chinook, state of the art Rafale to unparalleled S-400, everything started moving. According to the modern warfare strategy, no sane country desires to get into a direct war and if the enemy appears strong then not even the proxy wars. The key tenet for modern-day diplomacy is ‘deterrence’.
The Russia-built S-400 Triumf or SA-21 Growler as called by NATO — is the world’s best operational long-range surface-to-air missile. Most of the analysts believe that the system at this point of time is unrivaled on earth. It is much ahead of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), PAC 3 & NASAM 2 developed by the United States and its allies. The S-400 Triumf system can engage anything in air within a range of 400 km and at an altitude up to 30 km. The targets can be high speed ballistic missiles moving at the speed of 14 Mach (14 times of sound), low flying cruise missiles, stealth fighter jet, drones and helicopters. It can track 100 mid-air targets, including stealth fighters such as the joint strike fighter F-35 Lightening II, F22 Raptor, Chinese J20, Russian Su57 and has the capability to engage six of them simultaneously.
The leadership in Pakistan including ministers, officials and even news anchors are often heard saying, “Pakistan is ready to use nuclear weapons against India”. The country which has lost 4 conventional wars against India invariably finds nukes as the last resort. With Imran Khan taking over debt-ridden Pakistan, the chances of nuclear proliferation to the non-state actors are all time high. The Pakistani Jets and Cruise missiles do not have mettle to cross the line of control and deliver the bomb in Indian Territory with existing infrastructure, nevertheless, ballistic missiles have that ability. However, India has a reliable second-strike capability, but doctrine has been shifting the pivot from defense to offensive defense.
Ababeel, surface-to-surface missile of Pakistan is a medium-range ballistic missile developed in Pakistan. It is claimed that the missile has a range of 2,200 km and it can allegedly carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. Although, analysts do not buy Pakistan’s claim as to carry the MIRV, the missile should have the longer range. Though, Pakistan does not have MIRV today but may have in future as China already has MIRV missiles. The S-400 Triumf makes Pakistani ballistic missile arsenal ineffective and provides India a strategic advantage over Pakistan.
The S-400 Triumf is a comprehensive air defense system, this highly mobile system consists of many integrated multi function radars capable of operating in wide range of frequencies. The system can be deployed within 5 minutes and is capable of firing four types of missiles to create a layered defence. Once Integrated with the indigenous systems like Akash, QR-SAM (Quick Reaction – Surface to air missile ), MR-SAM ( Medium Range – Surface to air missile Based on Barak 8), XR-SAM (Extended Range – Surface to Air missile under development) and Ballistic missile shield consisting of PDV ( Prithvi Defense Vehicle) and AAD (Advance Air defence), the Indian airspace will be well fortified.
India is buying 5 squadrons of the S-400 Triumf Air defence system worth $ 5.4 billion. Often the launchers are considered as the system, but it is so much more. One system, comprising up to 8 divisions, can control up to 72 launchers. The Encyclopaedia of S-400 is the paper produced by Dr Alexander Lemanskiy- Vozdushno-KosmicheskayaOborona journal, No.3 (40), 20081
According to which:
- The 30K6E is an administration system which can chaperon eight divisions and often termed as battle management system, comprising the 55K6E Command Post mounted on the Ural-532301 heavy duty truck and 91N6E Big Bird acquisition radar;
- The fire control unit with up to six 98Zh6E each comprising a 92N6E Grave Stone engagement radar, up to twelve 5P85SE2 / 5P85TE2 TELs, each TEL armed with up to four 48N6E2/E3 missiles;
The missiles are fired by a pressured gas launching system from the launch tubes up to a height of 30 metres into the air before the rocket motor ignites and thrust gets generated due to fuel combustion. It makes the missile flounce towards the target. The system consists of following missiles:
- 40N6E missile – Longest range missile with a range of 400KM
- 48N6 missile – Long Range missile with a range of 250 KM
- 9M96E2 missile – Medium range missile with a range of 120 KM
- 9M96E missile – Short range missile with a Range of 40 KM
Amid the mystery of S-300 gave Pakistan sleepless nights, the procurement of S-400 is declared and with its inclusion in the Indian active services,“the nuclear bomb bluff” is all set to be busted. In addition, the buzz suggests that India will buy more units of S-400 in future but will it be able to doge sanctions again?