Speed up delivery of S-400 missiles, India to tell Russia
- India wants Russia to speed up the delivery schedule of the advanced S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems, which can detect, track and destroy hostile strategic bombers
- India has also sought an extension of INS Chakra’s lease till the Akula-1 submarine is ready for induction into the Indian Navy by 2025 or so
The faster delivery of the five squadrons of S-400, under the $5.43 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) deal inked in October 2018, will be discussed in the 19th India-Russia intergovernmental commission on military and military technical cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) to be held in Moscow on Wednesday, said sources.
India's lease of a Akula-1 nuclear-powered attack submarine under the over $3 billion (Rs 21,000 crore) deal inked in March this year as well as a reciprocal military logistics pact will also be among the issues to figure in the delegation-level talks, which will be co-chaired by defence minister Rajnath Singh and his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu.
The Akula-1 submarine is meant to replace INS Chakra, the Akula class submarine taken on a 10-year lease from Russia in April 2012, under the over $900 million deal inked way back in January 2004. India has also sought an extension of INS Chakra's lease till the Akula-1 submarine is ready for induction into the Indian Navy by 2025 or so.
But the delivery schedule for the S-400 squadrons, originally slated from October 2020 to April 2023, will figure higher on the agenda, with Rajnath Singh even likely to visit the production facilities at St Petersburg on Thursday. This comes after India and Russia recently worked out a payment mechanism to get around the US sanctions regime against acquisition of Russian weapon systems, as was earlier reported by TOI.
"The first instalment of 15% for the S-400 deal got delayed by several months. But it has now been paid, with the remaining instalments being linked to deliveries. Russia has assured India it will stick to the original delivery schedule. India, however, is trying to quicken it further," said a source.
The IAF has described the acquisition of the five S-400 squadrons as well as the 36 Rafale fighters from France, under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked in September 2016, as "game-changing" for combat capabilities and warfare in the region.
The S-400 squadrons will come equipped with missiles with an interception range of 120, 200, 250 and 380-km as well as battle-management systems of command posts and launchers, long-range acquisition and engagement radars, and all-terrain transporter-erector-launcher vehicles.
With it being possible to load as many as 128 missiles per battery, the highly-automated and mobile S-400 systems will be deployed on the borders with Pakistan and China to shoot down aerial threats before they come close to Indian airspace during hostilities. The air defence system can even intercept intermediate range ballistic missiles with a velocity of 4,800 metres per second.