SOURCE: Jogin Abraham Thomas / FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG
Washington Dc and Pentagon in particular of late have been edgy after many of their close allies like Turkey and India expressed interests in the procurement of S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries, even though both Turkey and India are feeling insecure and are doing their best to seal its airspace to counter new threats in the region, the US seems to have failed to understand their concerns .
Washington already has given Turkey an ultimatum on decisions to buy Russian S-400 surface-to-air missiles and also has warned that it will cut off the supply of 5th generation F-35 stealth fighters from the US. when it comes to India, Washington only raised concerns regarding the purchase by New Delhi but it also raised several eyebrows back in India due to unwanted commentary coming from Washington Dc and Pentagon.
While Washington doesn’t have the cloud to block military deals to New Delhi like it did with Ankara and also looking at the past close military relationship between Moscow and New Delhi which ranged from the supply of Aircraft carriers and Nuclear Attack Submarines, the noise around the sale of S-400 surface-to-air missiles does not fall well with strategic reasoning of Washington.
India from start has been very clear that purchase of S-400 is largely to do with Chinese deployment of Stealth fighter aircraft in bordering areas with India and after recent Dhoklam Standoff between the two countries ,yet the strategic reasoning of Washington, which should have been to back India against China, looks like it quite the opposite when it comes to S-400 sale to India .
The S-400 to be supplied to Indian Air Force will be made of only two of the four missiles which usually make up the S-400 family. India will only order very-long-range 40N6 (400 km) and the long-range 48N6 (250 km) missiles, which could make it one of the most deadly air-defence systems in the region, covering the whole of Pakistan and beyond till Kabul in Afghanistan.
S-400 due to the high reliability and long history of the successful missile defence system family has proven that when it comes to intercepting of American fighter aircraft like F-16 and F-15, no Air Defence system comes close to its performance. Operational use of 5th Generation F-35 in sector defended by S-400 missile defence system is still high-risk environment which no one in Pentagon will risk.
Pentagon might be worried that in case of regional fare up of tension in the region or a small scale conflict between India and Pakistan, Washington might be prevented by India from intervening militarily. Pakistan like in past will demand US Intervention to diffuse the tension before conflict turns into Nuclear one and going by the previous examples of US intervention in Kargil War or in 1971 war, Washington will like to keep that option open to prevent Nuclear war in the region.
It is highly unlikely US Military will have any direct military intervention in the region or send its Air force to operate over India but we also have to remember that S-400 is not an offensive system, it is a defensive system, specifically meant to deter intervention of very capable air force in our neighborhood which can overwhelm Indian Air Force . S-400 is not only a great game changer system which can change the course of the war but also act as great deference.