US ‘Discouraging’ India from Acquiring Russian S-400 Missile Systems

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US ‘Discouraging’ India from Acquiring Russian S-400 Missile Systems

  • The first regiment of the Russian S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile system is arriving in India much ahead of the delivery date.
  • By the end of 2021, the long awaited S-400 will arrive for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
  • In January 2022, the Russian specialists will arrive to help Indian specialists who have been trained in that country.


  • In October 2018, India signed a 5.43 billion USD deal with Russia for the S-400 Triumf missile system despite objections from the US and the threat of sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

About the S-400 Triumf Missile System

  • The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia.
  • It is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
  • The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km.
  • The system can track 100 airborne targets and engage six of them simultaneously.

Facts about the S-400

  • Types of targets include all kinds of aircrafts from fighter jets such as the F-16 to Ballistic and strategic cruise missiles.
  • System response time 9–10 seconds
  • The complex can move on roads at 60 km/h (37 mph) and off-road at speeds up to 25 km/h (16 mph).
  • According to the Pravda, the Russian state newspaper, the price of one battalion (about 7–8 launchers) is US$200 million.

How does it work?

  • S-400 detects an aerial threat approaching the air defence bubble (the area it has to protect), calculates the trajectory of the threat, and fires missiles to counter it.
  • It has long-range surveillance radars that sends information to the command vehicle. On identifying the target, the command vehicle orders a missile launch.
  • Think of the Iron Dome, recently used by Israel to protect against incoming rockets from Gaza May. Only, S-400 has the capacity to protect a much larger area from threats that are much farther.

The S-400 ‘Triumf’ missile systems and CAATSA

  • S-400 is the most dangerous operationally deployed modern long-range SAM (MLR SAM) in the world, considered much ahead of the US-developed Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD).
  • The U.S. State Department spokesperson said that there will be no “blanket” waiver for India, indicating that even if the S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems deal is not sanctioned, other “significant” military and nuclear transactions between India and Russia could still trigger sanctions under the CAATSA.
  • There has been unease in US ever since 2016 when India announced the deal with Russia, which remains India’s biggest defence partner.
  • Now, the S-400 deal could attract sanctions under US CAATSA law. The US has already sanctioned China and Turkey over similar purchases.

About Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act(CAATSA)

  • CAATSA‘s core objective is to counter Iran, Russia and North Korea through punitive measures.
  • Enacted in 2017.
  • It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

Sanctions under CAATSA

  • prohibition on loans to the sanctioned person.
  • prohibition of Export-Import bank assistance for exports to sanctioned persons.
  • prohibition on procurement by United States Government to procure goods or services from the sanctioned person.
  • denial of visas to persons closely associated with the sanctioned person.

Why India needs S-400 Triumf Missile System

  • The S-400 was chosen because of its versatile, accurate and multi-faceted capabilities in comparison to the missile systems offered by the USA.
  • India’s acquisition is crucial to counter attacks in a two-front war, including even high-end F-35 US fighter aircraft.
  • China’s acquisition of the S-400 system has been viewed as a “game changer” in the region. However, its effectiveness against India is limited.

Russian S-400 air defence system Vs Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD)

  • Unlike S-400, THE THAAD has a single layer defence to counter intermediate range and intercontinental ballistic missile systems, its defence misses another missile system like the Patriot missiles need to be fired.
  • Moreover, the S-400 can fire different types of missiles but the THAAD can fire only one type making it a one-dimensional missile system.
  • The range of S-400 too is wider with an estimated range of 400 kms against 150-200 of the American system.