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What is the ‘game changer’ S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile system?

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New Delhi, Oct 4: Russian President Vladimir Putin will arrive in India on Thursday, October 4, for a two-day visit and all eyes will be whether India and Russia will take the opportunity to sign a $5 billion deal on S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile systems, something that could earn the wrath of the United States. It is a crucial moment of balancing by India in its external affairs and the world is eager to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi plays it out.

Putin to arrive today, key pacts on the cards

What is the ‘game changer’ S-400 Triumf anti-aircraft missile system?

Now, what is the S-400 Triumf, which is being considered a "game changer"?

Here are some facts about the S-400 Triumf:

  • The S-400 Triumf or SA-21 Growler as the Nato calls it, is a modern long-range surface-to-air missile system developed by Russia. It was first used in 2007 and is an upgraded version of the S-300 series of missile systems used by Moscow for its defence.
  • India and Russia have been in talks to purchase the S-400 Triumf since 2015 and several countries have already expressed interest in procuring the system as it is considered far better than the American THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) though there is a difference in the two systems.
  • The S-400 not only provides a layered defence but can also fire three separate missiles. The system has a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers besides a command and control centre.

Akash, PAD, AAD and now S-400 triumf air defence missile system

  • The S-400 can go after all types of aerial targets like aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles, UAVs that are within a range of 400 kilometres and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometres.
  • This defence system can be deployed within five minutes and is far more effective than the earlier Russian air defence systems.
  • The system can track up to 300 airborne targets at a range of 600 km and can destroy up to 36 of those

The Indian Air Force will receive the first S-400 squadron within two years of signing the deal while the rest will be delivered in the next four-five years.

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