India's Induction of S-400 Systems Tilts 'Balance of Power' Against Pakistan, Says Army Veteran

© AP PhotoMilitary vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019
Military vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.11.2021
India signed a $5.43 billion deal with Russia in 2018 for the delivery of five columns of S-400 systems by 2023. The first S-400 systems, the delivery for which is underway, will reportedly be operational near India’s northern border (covering both Pakistan and China) and eastern border (focused on threats from China) in the beginning of 2022.
A former radar, weapons and missile specialist with the Indian Army, Lieutenant General (retired) A.K.S. Chandele has pointed out that the operationalisation of the S-400 ‘Triumf’ air defence systems could militarily prove to be a “game-changer” for New Delhi vis-à-vis its Western neighbour Pakistan.

“The S-400 is a comprehensive air defence system, with very short, short, intermediate, and long-range capabilities. Its long-range capabilities, which is around 400 kilometres, could cover the entire width of Pakistan,” the Indian Army veteran told Sputnik.

The S-400 is equipped with four different types of missiles -- short-range 9M96E (40 km), medium-range 9M96E2 (120 km), long-range 48N6 (250 km) and very long-range 40N6E (400 km).
Pakistani reporters and troops visit the site of an Indian airstrike in Jaba, near Balakot, Pakistan, Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019. Pakistan said India launched an airstrike on its territory early Tuesday that caused no casualties, while India said it targeted a terrorist training camp in a pre-emptive strike that killed a very large number of militants. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.10.2021
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According to experts, India could deploy the S-400 near the northern border to target Pakistan’s capital Islamabad or strategically place the Russian systems to take down targets in Peshawar, a city near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Chandele quickly adds that India would only have the option to target objects in the Pakistani airspace if a “war has been declared” between the two nations or there are active hostilities.
The last time the two nuclear powers were involved in similar hostilities was when Pakistani F-16 jets intruded into Indian airspace over Jammu and Kashmir on 27 February 2019, a day after the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out airstrikes in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“In the current situation, which is a no-war, no-peace scenario, the range of S-400 would be immaterial since Pakistani actions won’t be construed as being inimical to Indian interests,” he explains.

The Indian expert said that Pakistan, meanwhile, had no “comparable air defence system” that would be able to offset the advantage that the S-400 affords the Indian military.
“Most of Pakistan’s air defence systems are of short and medium range, which have been developed with the help of China,” he notes.
The Pakistani military last month announced that it had inducted the HQ-9/P, a long-range Surface to Air Missile (SAM) system, which is capable of shooting targets up to a range of 100 kilometres.
The observations by the Indian military veteran come against the backdrop of ongoing acquisition of S-400 components by the Indian Air Force (IAF), as revealed by Dmitry Shugaev, the Director of the Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) at the Dubai Airshow this month.
In this Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019 file photo, a truck carrying parts of the S-400 air defense systems, exits a Russian transport aircraft after landing at Murted military airport outside Ankara, Turkey. - Sputnik International, 1920, 14.11.2021
Russia Begins Supplying S-400 Air Defense Systems to India - Government

Achieving A ‘Status of Balance’ With China

Chandele says that in case of China, the induction of S-400 systems in the IAF would help New Delhi achieve a “status of balance” with its eastern neighbour.
“The S-400s would help us in making up for our capabilities against China, which already has these systems,” says Chandele.
According to reports, two S-400 units are deployed by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) at the Ngari Gar Gunsa and Nyingchi in Tibet Autonomous Province (TAR).
While the Ngari Gar Gunsa reportedly lies some 200 kilometres from the Pangong Tso Lake at the disputed Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh region, Nyingchi is located on the eastern frontier of the border, near the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
The PLA and the Indian troops have been embroiled in a military standoff in the disputed eastern Ladakh region since May last year.
Thirteen rounds of military commander-level talks and several rounds of discussions on the diplomatic level have failed to completely solve the dispute, which turned deadly last year after clashes between the two troops at a border friction point left 20 Indian soldiers and four PLA troops dead.
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When asked if China’s acquisition of S-400s provided it with an advantage as compared to India, Chandele reckoned that wasn’t necessarily the case.
“These systems are computerised and easy to operate upon once you have adequate training,” he notes.
Chandele also believes that the “annual maintenance contracts” signed between India and Russia, as part of the S-400 deal, would present New Delhi with enough expertise till the IAF are proficient in handling the systems.
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