India has started commercial negotiations with Russia for acquiring for advanced S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems that are capable of tracking and eliminating enemy aircraft, spy planes, drones and missiles.
India is reported to be looking to acquire at least five of these S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems worth about Rs39,000 crore.
The S-400 Triumf missile shield system can detect, track and eliminate enemy's stealth aircraft, spy planes, drones and missiles at a range of up to 400 km and at altitudes of up to 30 km.
Reports said India is looking to finalise a deal, the largest-ever with Russia, in the 2018-19 financial year as the first S-400 surface-to-air (SAM) missile and associated systems and components like all-terrain transporter-erector-launcher vehicles, radar and associated battle-management system of command post and launchers will be delivered two years after the contract is inked.
''All the five S-400 systems, which can even take on medium-range ballistic missiles, apart from cruise missiles, will be delivered in 54 months. The force-multiplier will change the dynamics of air defence in the region,'' Times of India quoted a defence ministry source as saying. The S-400 Triumf missile shield system can be used to protect cities during war or neutralise Pakistan's short-range Nasr (Hatf-IX) nuclear missiles.
The negotiation with Russia is underway at a time when China has already begun to get deliveries of six S-400 batteries – designated 'SA-21 Growler' by NATO – under a $3 billion deal inked in 2014. Meanwhile, Russia, which has deployed the S-400 Triumf missile shield system in Crimea for airspace protection along the Ukraine border, is in talks with Turkey and Saudi Arabia to sell the missile shield programme.
The Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) had reportedly given its nod for acquisition of the S-400 systems in December. India had signed a deal with Russia for five S-400 systems, four Grigorivich-class frigates and 200 Kamov-226T light helicopters during the Modi-Putin summit in Goa in October 2016.
The two countries had signed major deals in the past including the ones for 272 Sukhoi-30MKI fighters (over $12 billion) and INS Vikramaditya ($2.33 billion for the aircraft carrier and another $2 billion for 45 MiG-29Ks to operate from its deck).