Amid tensions at the border with China, Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh called on Russia to quickly hand over the S-400 air defense missile system.

India wants to soon own the S-400 air defense missile system to deal with China. Photo: AFP
India wants to soon own the S-400 air defense missile system to deal with China. Photo: AFP

Experts assess the S-400 system combined with Indian aircraft capable of fighting at high altitudes could be a threat to the Chinese military, according to the South China Morning Post on June 25.

Russia will hand over five S-400 systems worth a total of $5.2 billion to India before December 2021, but the plan has been delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Both China and India have S-300 air defense missile systems. However, China owns the S-400 air defense system before India, the last handover was in late 2018.

Collin Koh, an expert at Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), said tensions were escalating as border disputes forced India to strengthen its air defenses to respond to China.

Russia claims the S-400 is one of its state-of-the-art air defense systems, able to shoot down multiple targets at distances of up to 600 km at altitudes from 10 m to 27 km.

A Hong Kong military expert suggested that the S-400 could detect and shoot down Chinese J-10C and J-11B fighters. However, this system cannot deal with stealth fighters such as the J-20, long-range ballistic missiles or Chinese hypersonic weapons.

“The S-400 can only contribute to protecting the area around India’s New Delhi capital if war breaks out,” the expert said.

However, if India also owns the S-400, this is a threat to China, according to Song Zhongping, a military expert in Hong Kong.

“China should not underestimate India’s combination of S-400 systems with a long range and accurate rate of fire with Su-30 fighters and US-made Apache helicopters. Su-30 and Apache are both designed to engage in mountainous and high altitude combat,” said Song.

Besides, Mr. Song noted that the Indian army has a lot of experience in mountain fighting from the experience of fighting with the Pakistani army, while China has not fought in the past decades.

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