Sources reported that India has decided to buy 12 units of Russia's advanced S-400 ADS instead of the earlier proposal to acquire only 5 such units

Rakesh Krishnan Simha wrote in RIR, "The year is 2020. A posse of F-16 jet fighters takes off from the main Pakistan Air Force (PAF) base in Sargodha. Approximately 300 km east, at the Adampur air force base, an Indian S-400 air defence system picks up these aircraft almost instantly. The radar lock unnerves the F-16 pilots and they peel further west – away from the battery’s range."

While taking evasive action the PAF jets have to be careful not to stray into Afghanistan – which is increasingly hostile towards Islamabad – or Iran. The Pakistani pilots, however, realise trespass is the least of their problems. As the F-16s arrive over Baluchistan – the furthest they can get away from the Indian border – they are tracked by another S-400 battery stationed near the Jodhpur air force base 527 km away.

The S-400 systems are routinely scanning the airspace around them in a 360 degree sweep, but the PAF pilots are on the verge of panic. Between the overlapping coverage by India’s multiple S-400 battalions stationed along the border, PAF aircraft can run but not hide. This is the fishbowl effect – the feeling of being observed from all sides.

The most devastating impact of India acquiring the S-400 Triumf will be on the Pakistani military’s psyche. With its 600 km tracking range – and a 400 km kill range – the Russian air defence system will increase the vulnerability of all Pakistani air assets, especially fighter aircraft, missiles and drones, by several orders of magnitude.

Their 600 km tracking range – and a 400 km kill range – will allow just three S-400 battalions located on the border to cover all of Pakistan, except the western extremity of its restive Baluchistan province. With Afghanistan turning hostile and upending Pakistan’s grandiose plans of acquiring strategic depth, the arrival of the S-400 will squeeze the operational capabilities of both its offensive and defensive assets.

Because of its blistering speed of 17,000 kph, an S-400 missile fired from Adampur, Punjab, will take just 65 seconds to hit an F-16 flying over Sargodha. Ejection – rather than evasive action – would be the sensible option against a missile coming at you at that speed.

The S-400’s deployment will widen the window of vulnerability of Pakistan’s air force, army and strategic missile forces.

  • First up, PAF jets will be forced to operate hundreds of kilometres west of the Indian border and will have to fly in a narrow strip of airspace along the borders of Iran and Afghanistan.

  • Secondly, they will not be able to come to the defence of their armour and troop concentrations which would be taking a pounding from Indian artillery and the Indian Air Force (IAF).

  • The system can even function as a ballistic missile killer until India’s indigenous Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) comes online in the coming decade.

Old & Trusted Ally

Since the Soviet era, Russia and India have enjoyed mutually beneficial strategic relations, especially in the field of defense and military cooperation.

In 2014, the total value of weapons and military hardware delivered by Russia to India reached $4.7 billion, according to Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation estimates.

The S-400 Triumph is an air defense missile system, which integrates a multi-function radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control center. It is capable of firing different three types of missiles capable of destroying aerial targets at short-to-extremely long range.

Delivery Timeline

Russia could begin shipping the S-400 ‘Triumf’ anti- aircraft missile defence systems to India in 2020, Sergey Chemezov, head of the state corporation Rostec informed reporters attending the BRICS summit in Goa.

He was briefing reporters after the 17th India-Russia summit between President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi saw a slew of agreements being signed, including one on India’s purchase of advanced S-400 air defence systems.

Our Bureau