The US again has offered to sell India it’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Weapon System if it scraps a deal with Russia on procurement of S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system even though weapons offered in question do not supplement each other, yet it stirs up an interesting debate for India and the way forward for military planners.

S-400 is an anti-aircraft weapon system which is capable to shoot down any maneuverable fast moving aircrafts close to a range of 400km and also has capabilities to bring down cruise missile and Ballistic missiles but Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) Weapon System is a land-based element capable of shooting down a ballistic missile both inside and just outside the atmosphere and has no anti-aircraft capability literally, since interceptor batteries works on hit-to-kill concept against short-, medium and intermediate-range ballistic missiles and have no warheads and minimum effective attitude range are 50-60km which is much higher then any aircrafts fly.

S-400 Game Changer: S-400 with its effective range of 400km can actually shoot down an aircraft taking off from an airbase in Pakistan effective, even if aircraft is not engaged the second missile in the system which has a range of 120km can engage the target when it comes close to the border. Radar of S-400 which has a range of 600km can literally scan the whole of Pakistani air space and it will be nearly difficult for PAF to take off for missions without being noticed by IAF and with a target on their back once it enters S-400 range, Psychological effect on the pilots can be great deterrent especially if few of the bogeys are destroyed within their own airspace, but S-400 is an end game weapon which will be useful only when the country is in a full-scale war and will be of limited utility as seen in Kargil war and post-military operations after Pulwama .

THAAD: India already has Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capabilities and will be soon deploying its Phase-I Interceptor batteries to protect crucial cities like Delhi and Mumbai soon and procurement of THAAD could only strengthen India’s Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) capabilities with the local system. Technological advancement of THAAD could actually help India plan its Phase-II Interceptor batteries but nowhere it can substitute them, recent ASAT Missile system test showcases India’s technological advancement to create building blocks to commence development of Phase-II Interceptor missiles which will be highly effective against a missile launched from over 5000km range.

India has an active Anti-ballistic missile (ABM) program but wedonot know if it effective enough to deter a rival from launching its missiles on our cities. India is also developing its own very long range Anti-aircraft missile system called XRSAM with a range of 250km and with additional funding can develop a 400 or 500 km range Anti-aircraft missile in the same league as S-400 and S-500 systems but the call can be only taken by gauging available capabilities at hand and India has to decide which one they want to develop on their own and which one they want to buy off the shelf.


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