India is expected to urge Russia to expedite the delivery of the S-400 missile defence system during defence minister Rajnath Singh’s to Russia. According to experts, India has again turned to Russia instead of the US amid growing tensions with China.
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Russia has deferred delivery of lethal S-400 missiles to India due to the Covid-19 pandemic. China, which is also a strategic partner of Russia already has S-400 systems in its arsenal which can detect, track and destroy any hostile weaponry.
According to reports in ET, the Indian government has commenced the process of filling up gaps in defence readiness, stocking-up supplies and developing inventory profile based on worst-case scenarios, including a two-front conflict with China and Pakistan.
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Reports say that India is keen to explore if a faster delivery of S-400 missiles can be worked out, given the historical bond between India and Russia. Reliability of defence supplies is the other key concern on top of Rahnath Singh’s schedule.
The S-400s are one of Russia’s most sophisticated long-range surface to air missiles and arguably the most versatile in the world with over half a dozen types of surface to air missile each specialised in intercepting different types of targets at different ranges.
The S-400s makes use of an advanced cold launch system and is capable of guiding up to 160 missiles simultaneously and engaging up to 80 targets at a time – including combinations of ballistic and cruise missiles and all types of manned and unmanned aircraft.
The platform is prized for its advanced capabilities against stealth aircraft and will allow Indian air defences to threaten advanced next-generation jets fielded by China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force such as the Chengdu J-20 – as well as upcoming Pakistani stealth fighter being developed with China under Project AZM.
The report says that there are two concerns— one, accelerate the spares for existing Sukhoi and MiG fleets and second, gain a pledge that Indian supplies will not be affected in shifting political environment.
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Earlier, as widely reported, India has reportedly fast-tracked the process to acquire 33 fighter jets from Russia, which include MiG-29s and Su-30MKIs. The Indian Air Force has prepared the proposal which will be submitted for approval.
As per reports, India plans to acquire 21 MiG-29s and 12 Su-30MKIs from Russia. The deal is valued at around INR 5,500-6,000 crores.
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India is already securing a batch of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France. The first four Rafale jets are likely to arrive in India by the end of July. However, experts state that 36 Rafale jets will not be sufficient for a twin front attack from China and Pakistan.
Tom Cooper, an aviation expert, expressed astonishment that the Indian air force again desired of Su-30s and MiG-29s to meet its emergency requirement. The Su-30, while apparently awesome on paper, lacks performance and combat capability.
“Your air force has got 200 to 250 Su-30s,” Cooper wrote on Facebook. “Still, when you want to bomb a terrorist gang in the neighbouring country (Pakistan), you need almost 40-year-old Mirage 2000s, instead.”
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Those same Mirage 2000s had been crucial during the Kargil war in 1999. The Russian-made jets had struggled to hit Pakistani bases high in the mountains. But a single coordinated strike by Mirage 2000s hauling Litening camera pods and laser-guided bombs succeeded in hitting vital Pakistani headquarters.
Cooper says – the Mirage 2000 has been more effective than the Su-30s. The Rafale, the French-made successor to the Mirage, likewise is among India’s better fighters. But the country has ordered just 36 Rafales.