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Why India badly needed S-400 air defence systems and how is it a 'gamechanger' in true sense


New Delhi, Nov 14: Despite the threats of sanctions looming large, India went ahead with the S-400 deal with Russia and inked the pact to procure the air defence systems during Vladimir Putin's visit to New Delhi in October. The S-400 Triumph missile defense system is a significant strategic upgrade in India's military hardware. In fact India badly needed such a system given the hostile surroundings and growing capabilities of China and Pakistan.

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Defence and strategic matters expert Major General PK Sehgal told OneIndia that India was virtually defenceless against the incoming aerial attacks. He said that growing proximity between Pakistan and China, especially in defence matters, has emerged as a major concern for India. Maj General Sehgal reiterated what Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa had said about the S-400 systems that it is indeed a gamechanger.

"When General VK Singh was chief of the Army staff, he had written an open letter to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the air defence capability of the country was zero. We were defenceless against air strikes. We needed it to protect against cruise missiles, surface-to-surface missiles , against drones, against UAVs, against helicopters and rockets. We must have a system that is best in the world. It is completely a gamechanger as far as Indian sub-continent is concerned," he told OneIndia.

[Sanctions over S-400 deal: Why India seems unperturbed?]

The reason why Major General PK Sehgal is calling the deal a game changer is because of the multiple intercept missiles the S-400 system can fire. The S-400 supports four different missiles - the very long range 40N6E-series (400 km), the long range 48N6 (250 km), the 9M96e2 (120 km) and the short range 9m96e (40 km). It can prioritise the incoming attacks and take action appropriately.

"Given its powerful radars which can pick up any movement in the air upto a distance of 600 kms. Any aircraft taking off from its (Pakistan's) airfields can be picked up by us and we can knock it down before it comes anywhere near the border. This is one system which can track more than 300 aerial objects concurrently and can destroy upto 30 of them. It can prioritise which is more threatening and take appropriate action. It also gives you the capability of overlapping air defence systems," he said.

[Why US will not impose sanctions on India over S-400 deal? Find out from Maj Gen P K Sehgal]

The system if deployed along Pakistan border will provide India an edge of 600kms radar coverage with option of shooting down incoming aircraft from 400kms from its territory. The system has a multi-function 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]

"We did not have anything (in terms of air defence) between 400 kms and 25 kms. This is a system which can take on the enemy from 30 kms to 400m kms. Then you are also buying Israeli Barack 8 systems which has a range of 70 kms extendable upto 100 kms. So, you will have a layered air defence to take take on threats from China and Pakistan," said Major General PK Sehgal.

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