By Ajit K Dubey
NEW DELHI: In a major boost to the country’s air defence capabilities, the Indian Air Force is deploying the first squadron of the S-400 missile system in the Punjab sector.
“The first squadron is being deployed in the Punjab sector. The batteries of the first squadron would be capable of taking care of aerial threats from both Pakistan and China,” government sources told ANI.
Parts of the Russian missile system had started reaching India earlier this month and the unit is expected to be operationalized in the next few weeks, they said. The S-400 air defence system was contracted for by India in a deal worth around Rs 35,000 crore and five squadrons would be provided to India for tacking air threats from up to 400 km.
The first squadron deliveries are expected to be complete by the end of this year.
Sources said the equipment is being brought to India through both sea and air routes. Sources said after the first squadron is deployed, the Air Force would start focusing on the Eastern borders along with providing resources for training of personnel within the country.
Indian Air Force officers and personnel have trained in Russia on the system. The air defence system would give India an edge in South Asian skies as they would be able to take out enemy aircraft and cruise missiles from a 400 km distance.
The S-400 missile defence system is equipped with four different missiles which can engage enemy aircraft, ballistic missiles, and AWACS planes at 400 km, 250 km, the medium-range 120 km and the short-range 40 km. Due to tough bargaining and negotiations, India managed to bring down the S-400 price by almost a billion dollars, sources said.