Moscow is unlikely to accede to the request by the Ministry of Defence to buy unknown numbers of S-400 Triumf air defense systems from Russia for the Indian Air force which has just decided to allow the induction of frontline women combat pilots.
Defensenews.com has reported that Russian diplomats in New Delhi said Moscow is unlikely to agree to any S-400 deal until India clarifies its position on the joint Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme which has been pending since an agreement was signed 2010.
Apparently, he Indian Air Force still has not finalized how many aircraft it would order and aspects of how India and Russia would work on its production are still in the grey. The FGFA is a $10 billion project based on the Russian T-50 platform and is in the prototype stage.
Moscow, defense.com said citing a Russian diplomat, is waiting to see if the Narendra Modi government would proceed with joint development of the FGFA or limit its purchases of the aircraft.
The Indian Air Force made a request to MoD early in October to buy the S-400 system, a Defence Ministry source said. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is visiting Moscow in November and is expected to take up the issue of the S-400 as a government-to-government deal, defensenews.com said.
Earlier this month, Times of India had said the purchase of 12 S-400 systems was initiated by the Indian Air Force and would be discussed at the next summit of the Indian Defense Acquisition Council chaired by Parrikar.
The S-400, if Russia agrees to strike a deal on the proposed sale, would help the Indian Air Force acquire a state of the art air defense system with capability to strike multiple targets, including ballistic missiles and stealth aircraft. This would buy time for India to develop its own anti-missile system that includes the Prithvi and other systems that are in development.
The S-400 Triumph (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) is an air defence missile system developed by Almaz Central Design Bureau of Russia. The new system replaced the S-300P and S-200 air defence systems of the Russian Army.
The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km, according to Almaz. It integrates a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control centre. It is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a layered defence.
The system can engage all types of aerial targets including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles within the range of 400km, at an altitude of up to 30km. It can simultaneously engage 36 targets.