New Delhi: Dec 18; The government on Thursday approved the Rs 39,000-crore acquisition of five advanced Russian S-400 Triumf air defence missile systems, which have even rattled Nato countries because they can destroy incoming hostile aircraft, stealth fighters, missiles and drones at ranges of up to 400 km.
The decision by the Manohar Parrikar-led defence acquisitions council (DAC), which will take some time to materialize into an actual deal after commercial negotiations, comes just ahead of PM Narendra Modi's summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on December 24.
The DAC approval is just an "acceptance of necessity (AoN)" for Indian experts to now formally negotiate the government-to-government deal with their Russian counterparts. "It will take a few years for the S-400 systems to be actually inducted. The plan is to deploy three in the west (read Pakistan) and two in the east (read China) to seriously bolster the nation's air defence capability," said a source.
The DAC on Thursday also cleared other modernization proposals worth Rs 25,985 crore, including the Rs 14,600-crore acquisition of six more regiments of the indigenous Pinaka multiple-launch rocket systems. The army already has two regiments of the 40-km range Pinaka systems, while two more were approved earlier. But the S-400 was the clear takeaway to add "real defence substance" to Modi's visit to Russia, which will also see the two countries ink the inter-governmental agreement for the over $1 billion project to manufacture 200 Russian Kamov Ka-226T light utility helicopters under the 'Make in India' policy.