New Delhi: India will soon seal the S-400 Triumf air defence missile deal with Russia, said Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in New Delhi on Friday while brushing aside reports of US sanctions if the agreement is inked. While Sitharaman did not specify when the S-400 (NATO code: SA-21 Growler) surface-to-air anti-missile shield deal will be signed but she categorically stated that "it is almost at the conclusive stage".
The deal is likely to be formally inked and announced when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in October 2018.
Sitharaman also added that the proposed US sanctions against Russia under its Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) are not a cause for worry as they have not been imposed by the United Nations and in no way affect India.
The Russian military has been using the S-400 Triumf air defence missile since 2007. The system is much more advanced than any western system currently in service. Facing two adversaries - China in the north and east, and Pakistan on the west - the missile shield will add muscle to the Indian military. The S-400 Triumf missiles can travel at a rate of 4.8 kilometres per second (17,000 km/h; Mach 14).
US has imposed sanctions against Russian defence majors including Rosoboronexport accusing Moscow of allegedly meddling in the American presidential election in 2016. CAATSA, which came into effect in January 2018, mandates the Donald Trump administration to punish entities engaging in significant transaction with the defence or intelligence establishment of Russia.
The system can fire the following missiles - 48N6DM/48N6E3 (range 250km), 40N6 (range 400km, maximum altitude 185 km), 9M96E (range 40 km, maximum altitude 20 km) and 9M96E2 (range 120km, maximum altitude 30 km). At present, the S-400 Triumf system employs missiles which use a 143-kilogramme high-explosive fragmentation to kill the incoming aerial threat.
But another missile 77N6 is under development which will have the hit-to-kill capability like the US Patriot air defence system. While the current system can destroy missiles as well as aircraft and drones, the 77N6 will be specifically deployed to target the ballistic missile threat.