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Current Affairs

S-400 purchase

Date: 18 November 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous


Russia has begun delivery of S-400 missile system to India. The system was bought in 2018 for nearly US$5.5 billion.



The S-400 is a premier air-defence system developed by Russian company Almaz Central Design Bureau.



  • The S-400 is one of the most potent and advanced air-defence systems in the world. It can protect against most types of air attacks.

  • This includes drone attacks, fighter jets, missiles and rockets.  It is a shield that consists of long-range surface-to-air missile system.


The S-400 system

  • The system has been named SA-21 Growler by NATO. Each unit is made up of two batteries, each of which has a command-and-control system, surveillance radar, and engagement radar and four launch trucks.

  • It’s working and functions are similar to US Patriot system. However, it does not employ hit-to-kill ballistic missile defence technology.



The system has four types of missiles. The short-range missile has range up to 40 km, medium-range up to 120 km, long-range 48N6 up to 250 km, and very-long-range 40N6E up to 400 km and a flight altitude of 180 km.



The system has ability to simultaneously track up to 160 objects in a 600 km range, and target 72 objects in a 400 km range.



  • After identifying an aerial object flying towards its defence bubble, the S-400 calculates the trajectory of the threat, and fires missiles to counter it.

  • The command vehicle is responsible for ordering missile launch after the radars send information to the command vehicle. 


Reason for India buying them

  • From Indian Air Force’s point of view there is no other system capable of serving its long-range air defence requirements while tackling threats from China and Pakistan.

  • The S-400 can be deployed at a short notice of five minutes in comparison to US Patriot system that takes 25 minutes to get ready.

  • The speed of missiles is 4.8 km/s compared to 1.38 km/s of Patriot. The cost is also cheaper by at least 50 percent on every missile battery.


Countries using S-400

China has been using S-400 system and deployed them along LAC. Countries such as Algeria, Turkey and Belarus already have this system. Qatar, Saudi and UAE have shown interest.


US concern

  • US has been trying to coerce India into abandoning Russian defence equipments. India has also slowly reduced its dependence of Russian equipments and moving towards US.

  • The biggest concern for India is the Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which puts sanctions on countries for doing business with Russia, Iran and North Korea.


Arms supply

Russia has been the largest arms supplier to India. But its share has fallen from 70 percent to 49 percent. The US has increased its share but it currently occupies fourth position.