India in advanced talks to buy the S-400 air defence shield from Russia, it’s costliest air defence purchase

Rosoboronexport says missile development work for the Rs 39,000 crore project will be completed before signing

MANU PUBBY 

St Petersburg: Russia has said that it intends to sign a contract with India for the S-400 air defence shield `as quickly as possible’. It said it is currently in pre-contractual talks and technical discussions on the project.

“We are currently doing pre-contractual work and discussing deep technical issues. Both sides intend to sign the contract as soon as possible,” Igor Sevastianov, Deputy Director General, Rosoboronexport told ThePrint.

In response to a question on the development stage of the long-range missile in the system – the S-400 relies on four different missiles to provide layered defence – the official said that all issues will be resolved prior to the signing of the contract with India.

The S-400 consists of four different missiles that are carried on mobile launchers and can engage with targets that are 120 km, 200 km,  250 km and 380 km away.

The S-400 missile system. Source: Rosoboronexport

 

The advanced air defence system is considered vital by India because of its potential to virtually ground enemy air operations over large distances. Last year, India changed its entire future air defence roadmap. It drastically cut down on planned long-range surface-to-air missile acquisitions to carve out funds to purchase five of the S-400 systems.

According to Indian sources, advanced negotiations for the Rs 39,000 crore deal are on, with two systems set to be ordered in the first phase, followed by three more as per current plans.

At Rs 39,000 crore for five units, will be the costliest air defence purchase by India. It gives India the capability of covering most Pakistani air force bases and cities from a system deployed within the country.

Russia side has also made a request to bypass the offset clause  – which requires foreign vendors to invest 30 per cent of the purchase price with Indian industry – as it is a high-technology project.

However, China is likely to get the S-400 as early as this year, having already placed its orders. It is estimated that the first S-400 system could be delivered to India only by 2019-20 at the earliest given the current export commitment as well as Russian requirements.

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