2nd March, 2023 Security
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Context: Deliveries of five regiments of S-400 air defence systems under a $5.43-billion deal with Russia are expected to be completed by year-end or early 2024.
- Issues of delayed payments as well as insurance and reinsurance remain major stumbling blocks delaying deals in the pipeline.
- Delivery of the third S-400 regiment has been completed which leaves the deliveries of two more regiments.
- The second and third regiments saw delays of a few months.
- There have been delays in “milestone payments”.
- The three regiments are deployed along the Northen, Eastern and western borders, sources said.
- India has contracted five S-400 regiments under a $5.43 billion or ₹40,291 crore deal as per a conversation rate of ₹74.2 against the dollar at the time, signed in October 2018.
- The deal has been delayed from the start over payment issues.
- With the looming threat of U.S. sanctions under CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act), the two sides had worked out payments through the rupee-rouble exchange.
- The payments troubles compounded after Russia was shut out of the global SWIFT system for money transfers.
- India and Russia have agreed to conduct payments through the rupee-rouble arrangement after trying payments in euros as well.
What is S-400?
- The S-400 Triumf is a mobile, surface-to-air missile (SAM) system developed in the 1990s by Russia as an upgrade to the S-300 family. The evolved version of the S-400 system is the S-500 Prometheus, which entered service in 2021.
- S-400 (NATO name SA-21 Growler) is considered one of the world’s most advanced air defence systems that can simultaneously track and neutralise a range of incoming objects spanning aircraft, missiles and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) over very long ranges.
- It is especially suited to take down strategic aerial platforms like bombers, mid-air refuellers, reconnaissance aircraft and Advanced Early Warning and Control Systems (AWACS).
Why is the S-400 so important to India?
- S-400 is very important for India’s national security, especially as it faces new threats from China, Pakistan and Afghanistan, calling it a “game changer”.
- The system will also offset the air defence capability gaps due to the IAF’s dwindling fighter squadron strength.
- Buying the S-400 is a way for asserting India’s ‘strategic autonomy’.
Q) S-400 is a way for asserting India’s ‘strategic autonomy’. Discuss. (150 words)