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SOURCE: NARAYAN APTE/ FOR MY TAKE / IDRW.ORG

Later this December, India will take delivery of the first S-400 Air Defense System. Russian Ministry of Defense, which recently announced that Both China and India are set to be export customers of Russia’s New S-500 Air Defense System that is designed to swat down both air-breathing and ballistic missile threats.

The Russian military is currently carrying out pre-service trials of the S-500, after which the system will begin to be deployed operationally. S500 system is not to be seen as an upgraded Air Defense System but rather as a supplement to the existing long-range S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile (SAM) system to defeat the entire spectrum of existing and future attack weapons (hypersonic ) in the entire range of altitudes and speeds.

Indian S400 Air Defense System consists of Two main Interceptor missiles which are 40N6E missile (400km) and 48N6 missile (250km) that allows each S400 battery to be configured to fire a range of two different missiles, to tackle threats of various kinds and at different ranges and elevations. S500 comes with a 77N6-N-series missile which is a hit-to-kill missile designed with an inert warhead capable of hitting its target at 600km.

S-500 is there to supplement S400’s capabilities of its anti-access and area denial (A2/AD). India procured each S400 system with only two long-range interceptor missiles and avoided going for the other two low-range interceptor missiles. 77N6 not only has more range but also additional capabilities over both 40N6E and 48N6 Interceptor missiles in tackling much more effectively hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles which is why India will procure them due to serious advances made by the Chinese in the Hypersonic regime and their ability to manufacture them in mass.

While many will question why S500 when Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Program that has multi-layered ballistic Interceptor missiles can do the job, India’s Ballistic Interceptor Missile are no doubt were designed to take down ICBM that has re-entry speeds of around 21 Mach, but it was not designed to take down hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles that remain in the atmosphere, unlike Ballistic Missiles that need to fly and have higher trajectory before it re-enters earth’s atmosphere. Either Indians ABMs will have to be redesigned or new interceptors missiles have to be added to take down hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles that might take some year or India can work on a new program.

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