India and Russia agreed on a landmark deal on 15/10/16 that will see the Russians supply the Indian armed forces with five S400 Strategic Surface to Air missile units. This deal will be the single greatest augmentation of Air defence in India since the acquisition of the SA-3 in the late 1960’s.
To be fair this is just part of a required massive modernization of the Indian military’s air defence capabilities that has several tiers and will see all Civilian and military radars in the country integrated into one massive all pervasive net.
The Key Indigenous & Imported components of this upgradation are
1) Up to five Israeli Green Pine and Indigenous Swordfish Long Range Tracking Radar systems
2) Indigenous Ballistic missile defence system consisting of Prithvi air defence and Ashwin air defence interceptor missiles designed to protect our cities from ballistic missiles. A second tier of interceptors called AD1 & AD 2 are in development as well.
3) Five units of S400 Battlespace protection systems that will function as a strategic LRSAM and also be used to deny PAF its own airspace if required.
4) Numerous Indo Israeli 90km range MRSAM units that will replace & augment the 60’s era S-200 and SA-3 units.
5) Numerous Indigenous “Akashdeep” Aerostat radar systems proving a bird’s eye view into Enemy airspace.
6) Numerous Indigenous AKASH missile units that will form the numerical backbone of air defence at our airbases.
7) India has inducted at least 18 Israeli SPYDER SR SAM units and there is a high possibility of more units coming in as well.
8) Upgradation of Bofors & ZSU AA guns, 2000+ guns will be eventually upgraded.
Apart from these the Strela, OSA, Pechora and Kub anti-aircraft missile batteries deployed by the Indian military are being upgraded as well. A simultaneous program shall see the induction of a large number of modern SPAAG, QRSAM & Manpads as well. Of all these systems however it is the S400 that is most feared by all our foes as it comes with a reputation as a ruthless hunter of enemy aircraft at ranges almost all other SAM systems would fail at.
A S400 system consists of four core components:
The 30K6E battle management system, comprising the 55K6E Command Post and 91N6E Big Bird/N6L6 acquisition radar;
Up to six 98Zh6E Fire Units, each comprising a 92N6E Grave Stone “multimode” engagement radar, up to twelve 5P85SE2 / 5P85TE2 TELs, each TEL armed with up to four 48N6E2/E3 missiles;
A complement of SAM rounds, comprising arbitrary mixes of the 48N6E, 48N6E2 and 48N6E3;
The 30TS6E logistical support system, comprising missile storage, test and maintenance equipments.
Special Customers like India can hope to get the 400km 40N6E interceptor missiles as well. However as on date there is no confirmation of this interceptor making its way here.
A S400 system uses six types of missiles as interceptors to target enemy aircraft, cruise missiles, drone & ballistic missiles these are ::
1)The 400km(rumored to be up to 450km) range 40N6 Surface to Air strategic interceptor designed primarily to target ballistic missiles and strategic airborne platforms like Bombers, AWACS, ELINT Aircraft, Tankers & Transporters. This missile is reported to have an intercept speed of up to 17000kmph that means even an F-16Blk50 in clean configuration will find it impossible to get away from a 40N6 coming at it from 300-350km away.
2) The 200km & 250km range 48N6E2 & 48N6E3 that is primarily designed to hunt all types of targets travelling at up to 4800m/s.
3) There are two shorter ranged interceptors called the 9M96E & 9M96E2 that guard against aerial threats at up to 40 & 120km ranges respectively.
The S400 has the potential to completely revolutionize any future conflict with Pakistan by denying the Pakistani air force the ability to operate freely within its own airspace. A single fire unit deployed near Jammu can control Pakistani Airspace all the way to Peshawar. Three such fire units controlled by a single battle management unit should be able to control all of Pakistani airspace east of the Indus.This has grave implications for Pakistan as a nation, consider the fact that Pakistan is only some 500km wide on average and the effect of a S400 controlling 300-350km of that airspace (deployed 50-100km behind the border) will be devastating to the Pakikstan Air Force.
By the same Paradigm this system practically guarantees that Indian Strike forces engaging in a shallow 50-100km cold start type strike should be relatively well protected against Pakistani Airstrikes and missile attack. The implications are obvious any future transgression by Pakistan post the deployment of S400 class units may see Pakistan dismembered by numerous Indian armored & artillery thrusts working under a S400 missile defence umbrella. Also, no S400 will be deployed alone they will work in tandem with PHALCON & DRDO AWACS, other Indian Radars including the LRTR units mentioned earlier and Aerostats. Even in the Eastern Theater a single S400 unit deployed In Arunachal will cover 3 of five major Chinese Airbases in Tibet. Such a unit will also provide the entire Northeast with a protective umbrella against Chinese missiles and Aircraft.
At first thought, one would assume that India has every incentive to station a number of S-400 systems – potentially up to three – in fairly close proximity to Pakistan. If equipped with the 40N6 missile, grounding the S-400 in the heart of Indian Punjab would enable India to stifle the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) from flying in key areas in its Central Command theatre (which is responsible for protecting Lahore, the country’s inland economic hub and second largest city). Similar positioning and results can be had in the south (in terms of Karachi) and the north (in terms of Kashmir).
India need not deploy the S-400 in that manner (at least permanently), though the incentive to pre-empt Pakistan from utilizing its aerial assets (which carry a number of the country’s pre-emptive stand-off range munitions) is certainly there and should not be dismissed. In fact, the risk of India taking such a course is something Pakistani defence planners would be wise to acknowledge and work to address.
India is slated to get five S400 Systems starting in 2020, further details on the number of launchers et al remains classified however extrapolating with the Chinese S400 purchase for six firing batteries & a rumored 3 battle management systems for some 3$bil the Indian deal should consist of at least 8-10 firing batteries and associated systems . Considering that each firing battery can have up to 12 launchers and noting that the Russians have deployed only 8 launchers in each of their batteries we can safely assume that India should get at least 80 launchers as part of 10 firing units controlled by 5 Battle management systems.
Suffice it to say the S400 will be the Tip of an extremely powerful & long spear that will thrust into the heart of the PAF in any future conflict post its deployment.