Fact in Focus – S-400

One particular piece of military technology, the S-400 has dominated much of the discussions in the Indian space for the past week.

What is the S-400?

  • The S-400 is an advanced long-range surface to air missile (SAM) developed by the Russian Federation to shoot down aircrafts and missiles upto a maximum range of 400 kms.
  • It is said by several independent defense analysts and the Russian military as the world s most advanced SAM available.
  • It is currently operated by the Russian Federation and has been ordered by the Belarus, China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and India.

Why the controversy?

  • India and Russia had signed an Intergovernmental agreement that stated that Russia would supply 5 S-400 regiments to India in a deal worth INR 40,000 crores.
  • Russia is under sanctions by the United States, another major defense supplier of India, and payments cannot be processed as the threat of US action under the controversial Countering America s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) had scared away financial institutions.
  • The US has, in the past, warned India to not proceed with the deal as it may have serious implications on Indo-US defense ties.
  • US is eager to increase its share of Indian defense market and has offered alternative technologies in exchange of the S-400.

Why lies ahead?

India cannot wish away its years of defense co-operation with Russia. Russia has been, and remains to be, one of India s most reliable suppliers even after it was displaced by the US as India s top defense supplier. Apart from the S-400, India is also buying new helicopters, leasing a nuclear submarine and acquiring the AK-203 from Russia.


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