India and China both have purchased the S-400 missile defence system from Russia. S-400 is already service of Chinese defence forces since 2018. India is set to get its first system by November 2021. It is currently the best air defence system available in the world.
Today in this article we will discuss about, What is the difference between the S-400 Missile system of both countries i.e. India and China? In what terms India has an edge? etc….
In this article, we will not discuss what is S-400, what are its features, specifications, etc. As it will take another article that we will discuss it later……….In meanwhile you can read about S-400 in detail by clicking here.
Before discussing China’s and India’s S-400, first, let’s understand what is meant by battery/battalion/squadron/regiment of S-400 missile defence system……
What Is A Battery / Battalion / Squadron / Regiment In S-400?
Note: Battery / Battalion / Squadron means the same thing. Whereas depending on a country’s requirements it can include one / two / three or more batteries in a single regiment. Thus, a regiment can have one / two / three or more batteries.
A single S-400 battery consists of :-
- Command and Control Center
- It tracks incoming aerial threats and contains:-
- Battle Management Radar or Target Acquisition Radar – These radars search for aerial targets.
- Mobile Command Post – It contains defence personnel who processes the information received from Radars.
- It tracks incoming aerial threats and contains:-
- Fire Control Radar and Launch Vehicles
- The radars locked the target on the basis of information received from the Command Center.
- After all clearance, missiles are launched from a Launch Vehicle. Each battalion or battery of S-400 can have from 6 to 12 launchers. Each launcher can fire 4 missiles at a time. The range of all these four missiles are:-
- 40 km
- 120 km
- 250 km
- 400 km
So, a battalion or battery of S-400 contains a command Centre (if needed ground stations can also be setup), different types of radars and can have 6-12 launchers.
Totally One Battery/Battalion/ Squadron = One Mobile Command Center (ground stations can also be set up), different types of radars to track and lock the target, and can have 6-12 launchers as per countries requirement.
For one battery, two different types of radars are necessary but depending on an extra layer of security, a country can also purchase other types of radars also.
Thus, suppose if one battery contains 8 launchers, then it can fire 8 × 4 = 32 missiles at a time (As each launcher has 4 missiles tubes, which can launch 4 missiles).
The number of launch tubes in each launcher can also vary. It depends on the number of 400 km range missiles, which it is carrying. As a single launch vehicle can launch 4 missiles of range 40 km, 120 km, 250 km, and 400 km.
Suppose a country wants to equip only 400 km range missiles in all 4 launch tubes of a launcher, then a single launch vehicle can be armed with only 2 missiles of such type. So in that case a launch vehicle will have only 2 missile tubes, which can launch two 400 km range of missiles.
Also read: S-400 and Possible Sanctions On India
Chinese had signed the deal to purchase S-400 missile defence system, back in the year 2014. It has received its first these systems in 2018. It is already operationalized by China since 3 years.
As per the deal, China has purchased 6 battalions of S-400. Each battery of China consists of a Mobile Command Center, different types of radars and 6 launchers.
Thus, in total China possess 6 Mobile Command Center, around 12 radars and 36 launchers (6 × 6 = 36). Each launcher can launch 4 missiles at a time, then in total China can fire 144 (36 × 4) missiles at a time.
There is an international regime by the name of MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime). As per the law of MTCR, a member country of MTCR can’t give / sell missiles, combat drones etc. of more than 300 km range to a non-member country of MTCR.
Russia is a signatory of S-400 and China being not, so as per the regulation Russia can’t sell missiles of 400 km range to China.
Thus, technically China have only missiles of 40 km, 120 km and 250 km range. Hence, China can track and target of only upto 250 km of range.
In 2018, the Indian government has signed a deal to purchase 5 battalions or battery of S-400 for $5 Billion (Around 40,000 crore INR). Russia will begin delivery of these systems by December 2021 i.e. by end of this year.
India will get 5 battalions of S-400. Each battalion will have a Mobile Command Center, different types of radars, and 8 launchers.
Thus, in total India will have 5 Mobile Command Center, up to 10 radars, and 40 launchers (8 × 5 = 40). Each launcher can launch 4 missiles at a time, then in total India can fire 160 (40 × 4) missiles at a time.
India being a member of MTCR unlike China, will get missiles of all ranges i.e. from 40 km to 400 km from Russia.
Thus, in terms of total number of missiles can be launched at a time and the missiles of 400 km range, India clearly will get an edge.
Considering China’s adversaries, China will have to deploy atleast its one battery of S-400 for Taiwan, two batteries for countering Japan and USA at its eastern side. Thus, in total China can deploy about its three batteries for India, which India can counter easily by deploying 3 batteries against China and 2 against Pakistan. Also considering the factor of range of Indian missiles it can easily counter China as Indian side has missiles of 400 km range unlike China.
Chinese possibilities of getting 400 km range of missiles from Russia illegally can’t be ruled out. As by illegal means, China may have to get those missiles. So, we have to be conscious of this. China is already using its own version of the Russian S-300, which has a range of 300 km. So here China has an edge.
China is known for copying things. It will definitely make an attempt to reverse the engineering of the Russian S-400 and developing it into its own version. In the next 5-7 years, China will have its own alternative to the Russian S-400.
Russia will also by diplomatic means try to maintain a position where both the countries will not use S-400 against each other.
India’s indigenously developed missile defence system is effective only up to a range of a maximum of 70 km. So, we have to find an indigenous alternative of S-400, which can have a range of at least 250 km in addition to S-400. DRDO is working on developing India’s alternative of S-400, by the name of XRSAM Missile Defence System. We have to fast-paced our efforts, so by the next 5-6 years we can have an alternative and we can create a multi-layered missile defence system.