New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Russia has started the delivery of the S-400 surface-to-air missile defence system to India and is expected to deliver its first regiment by the end of 2021, said Alexander Mikheev, the director-general of Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

"All the property of the first regimental set of S-400s will be delivered to India at the end of 2021," Mikheev was quoted as saying by Sputnik. "Immediately after the New Year, our specialists will arrive in India to hand over the equipment at its locations".

India had signed the USD 5 billion deal with Russia in October 2018 to procure five units of the S-400 air defence missile system despite an objection from the Trump administration. In 2019, India made the first tranche of payment of around USD 800 million to Russia for the missile system.

Sources, quoted by news agency ANI, said that the S-400 missile system would be first deployed near the western border where it can counter threats both from China and Pakistan. Later, the missile defence system would be deployed along the eastern border, the sources added.

What is the S-400 missile defence system and what are its capabilities?

S-400 is a long-range surface-to-air missile system developed by Russia's Almaz Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering in the 1990s. Its first successful test was conducted in Astrakhan's Kapustin Yar on February 12, 1999. In 2001, the S-400, which is an upgraded version of the S-300 missile system, was deployed by the Russian Army.

The missile defence system has an operation range of 40 km, 120 km, 250 km and 400 km. S-400, as per the Almaz Central Design Bureau for Marine Engineering, "can simultaneously engage 36 targets", including aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, UAVs, rotorcraft and guided rockets. It can also detect and destroy advanced fighter jets like the F-22 raptor.

The S-400 uses five kinds of missiles:

- 40N6E (Range: 400 km, maximum velocity: Mach 3.5 and weight: 1,893 kg)

- 48N6DM or 48N6E3 (Range: 250 km, maximum velocity: Mach 5.9 and weight: 1,835 kg)

- 48N6E2 (Range: 200 km, maximum velocity: Mach 5.9 and weight: 1,835 kg)

- 9M96 and 9M96E2 (Range: 120 km, maximum velocity: Mach 2.9 and weight: 420 kg)

- 9M96E (Range: 40 km, maximum velocity: Mach 2.6 and weight: 333 kg)

Why India wants the S-400 missile defence system?

India wants the S-400 missile defence system to tighten the air defence system along the 4,000 km long Sino-India border. Sources, quoted by ANI, have said that India wants to nullify the threat posed by the Chinese along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by deploying the S-400s. Notably, China has also deployed two S-400 squadrons at Ngari Gar Gunsa and Nyingchi airbase in Tibet.

Why the US is unhappy with India over the S-400 deal?

The US has opposed the S-400 deal with Russia. Earlier, the Trump administration had also threatened to impose sanctions on the states that are acquiring weapons and military hardware from Russia.

"We're not going to allow that. So what we have pushed with Indians is: tighten up your procurement processes, tighten up your defence technology security processes and protocols, and then you're putting yourselves in a much more mature space to be a tighter, closer partner," a US State Department official had said earlier.

However, a senior official from the Biden administration has said that the US has not "made a determination" on a potential waiver of sanctions against India for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia. However, the official said that the Biden administration has requested its allies to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

"We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that risk triggering sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). We have not made a determination on a potential waiver with respect to Indian arms transactions with Russia. CAATSA does not have a blanket or country-specific waiver provision," the official said, as reported by ANI.

"The US-India defence partnership has expanded significantly in recent years, commensurate with India's status as a major defence partner. We expect this strong momentum in our defence partnership to continue. We value our strategic partnership with India," the official added.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma