S-400s A Game-Changer For India; Indigenous Missile Defense Systems Useless: Chinese Expert

A Chinese expert has criticized the Indian missile defence system and its deterrence capabilities. Even though China has a military that is rapidly procuring advanced conventional and nuclear weapons, India isn’t far behind considering it is already equipped with nuclear weapons and advanced ICBM missiles.

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) are working on a plan to install the missile shield for the national capital after the completion of the Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) programme writes a Chinese security expert. 

“Even though India has made noteworthy progress in the independent R&D and deployment of the ballistic missile defence system in recent years, it is still encountered with a series of complications, such as inept finances, complicated R&D process, heavy dependence on other nations regarding key technology, and fragmentary systems,” writes Fang Xiaozhi, a researcher at the BRI Institute of Strategy and International Security at Fudan University.

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However, there’s a possibility that China is undermining India’s defence capabilities. This opinion cannot be considered unbiased since tensions between the US and China are flaring-up which tends to veil China’s rivalry with India.

Fang has relegated the success of completion of the BMD programme by calling it “most conservative plan in all its anti-missile tests “. He further adds that this testing approach of ‘hitting a fixed target’ doesn’t comply with a real combat situation, nor can it truly test the anti-missile system’s stability and reliability.” 

What is India’s BMD programme?

BMD programme is India’s indigenous system which was launched after the Kargil war in 1999 to counter China and Pakistan’s expanding missile arsenals. It is a two-tier programme to intercept missiles. 

Tier one is the Prithvi Air Defense (PAD)/Pradyumna and Prithvi Defense Vehicle (PDV) which is designed to destroy missiles at exo-atmospheric altitudes of 50–180 kilometres. 

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Whereas, tier two consists of the single-stage solid rocket-propelled AAD/Ashin interceptor missile designed to destroy incoming missiles in the endo-atmosphere at altitudes of 15-40 kilometres.

“The BMD programme has been completed. All tests carried so far have been successful, including the radars and missiles. The IAF, which is responsible for the country’s air defence, and the DRDO, which has developed the system, will now move a joint proposal for the government’s clearance.”

The Russian S-400 missiles

India has further managed to enhance its defence capabilities by concluding a deal with Moscow to acquire arguably the world’s most advanced air defence system, S-400. It is capable of neutralising incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and drones within a range of up to 400 km and a tracking capability of nearly 600 km.

“Deploying one S-400 system allows you to cover an entire spectrum of aerial threats,” according to experts taking to the EurAsian Times.

In 2017, US President Donald Trump enacted ‘Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act’ (CAATSA) to impose new sanctions on Iran, Russia and North Korea. The objective of such an act was to prevent the revenue flowing to Russia.

CAATSA empowered the US to impose sanctions on India for the multi-billion dollar deal with Russia. However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that India meets the criteria for a US sanctions waiver for procuring S-400s from Russia and that the Trump administration has “enough flexibility” on the issue.

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Russia will start delivering S-400 air missile systems to India by the end of 2021, according to state-run RIA Novosti news agency while quoted a Russian defence official. India signed a $5.43 billion deal for S-400 missiles in 2018 sending shivers across the hostile neighbours, especially Pakistan.

The S-400 is the most advanced air defence missile system that went into service in Russia in 2007. It is designed to detect, track and destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles and can also be used against ground installations.

Nitin J Ticku is a communications specialist with a deep interest in Education, Defence and Geopolitics. Nitin holds a double masters degree in Business Management and Journalism and is a frequent contributor to the EurAsian Times.