The Indian Army will receive the first S-400 Triumf air defense system later this year.
Although India has requested early delivery of S-400 complexes due to tensions with China; but Russia was unable to do so, because of many limitations related to production and technology. India is also in the process of forming two squadrons of Rafale fighters from France, under a deal worth €7.8 billion in 2016. Rafale, like the S-400, are known as game-changers for India, ahead of two “old” rivals, China and Pakistan.
The S-400 air defense system, is considered one of the most advanced air defense systems in the world today. India and Russia reached a $5.43 billion deal in 2018 in New Delhi, to secure the country’s long-term security needs. On the other hand, the deal to buy Rafale fighters created a controversy in India. The Indian government cut too much on the initial order in the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) program in 2016; reduced from 126 to 36 units.
Why did India reduce the number of fighters by 71% under the MMRCA program? The reason is that each Rafale has an exorbitant price of 241 million USD/unit, so India cannot have enough resources to buy enough aircraft as planned. The Indian opposition alleges that the cost per Rafale has doubled compared to the original deal. It is even more expensive than the US F-22, while not outperforming the Russian Su-30MKI fighter.
The deal between India and Russia, worth about $5.4 billion, includes five S-400 regiments, each consisting of four battalions. Each battalion is equipped with 9 launchers and 120 missiles. The S-400 system uses a variety of missiles. The first is 48N6DM (48N6E3), which is an upgraded version of 48N6M with a powerful propulsion system, with a range of 250 km. It also uses missiles of the previous S-300PMU system currently in service with the Indian Army.
The longest range missile of the S-400 system is the 40N6, with a range of up to 400km. The missile uses active radar guidance, which can intercept air targets at very long ranges. Its targets are mainly support jamming aircraft such as J-STARS, AWACS, EA-6B; or even enemy aerial refueling planes.
With the 9M96E and 9M96E2 medium-range surface-to-air missiles, the S-400 can hit air targets with high accuracy at a maximum range of 120 km. The use of many types of missiles helps the S-400 cover the entire range of air defenses, but saves costs.