S-400 sytem has an estimated range of 400 kilometres with an altitude of 30 kilometres. It also has the capability to intercept the intermediate-range ballistic missile, not just that the Tiumph system can target aircrafts, UAVs, cruise missiles with equal ease engaging 300 targets at a time.
India will be signing the S-400 defence missile deal with Russia on Friday despite the Trump administration's unhappiness at Putin playing a leading hand in delivering the high tech weapons system.
It is no secret the Americans wanted to sell India the anti-ballistic missile defence system named Terminal High Altitude Area Defense(THAAD), however India's defence needs required the S-400 system leading Trump to threaten India with CAATSA sanctions meaning any country which trades with Russia, Iran and North Korea would be working against US federal law attracting wide-ranging sanctions.
However, despite threats, India has decided to go ahead with the S-400 defence deal with Russia. It is worth looking at how the S-400 stakes up against the THAAD in war-like situations.
Several countries including Turkey, Saudi Arabia have expressed interest in buying the S-400. Russia has already delivered the S-300 system to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Reports say other countries namely Algeria, Belarus, Iran, Iraq, Qatar and Vietnam have been eyeing the Russian missile system.
The S-400 can reportedly be assembled in 5 minutes through a mobile command vehicle making it a deadly force capable of being fired from any terrain. It has the capability to track radars and airborne threats.
Unlike S-400, THE THAAD has a single layer defence to counter intermediate range and intercontinental ballistic missile systems, it defence misses another missile system like the Patriot missiles need to be fired.
Moreover, the S-400 can fire different types of missiles but the THAAD can fire only one type making it a one-dimensional missile system. The range of S-400 too is wider with an estimated range of 400 kms against 150-200 of the American system.
China was particularly concerned with the THAAD missile deployed on the Korean Peninsula last year. Although it possessed the superior S-400 but it could not logically pass it on to its ally North Korea in an event of a war which now, of course, is unlikely in the post-Kim and Trump meeting in Singapore, however, the defence missile system opens up a new front closer home with India set to acquire similar capability as China.
China's reaction on India acquiring the Russian defence missile system is awaited, though it won't surprise anyone if there is "silent response" from beyond the Great Wall.
As India was debating whether to buy the THAAD or the S-400, the issue of price cropped up regularly. Reports indicated that the US system cost India at least twice the Russian amount of $3 billion tipping the scale in Putin's favour.
The US, however, has been following the development very closely with Putin set to sign the agreement during his India visit it remains to be seen if the Trump administration will implement the much feared CAATS sanctions on its Indo-Pacific ally and upset its balance of power with China.