India Quietly Approves S-400 Deal Ahead of Modi-Putin Summit

India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the country’s highest government body responsible for defense procurement and final arbiter on national security issues headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has quietly cleared the last hurdle for the intended acquisition of five regiments of Russian-made S-400 Triumf air defense systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) last week, according to government sources.

The CCS purportedly cleared the purchase of the five S-400 regiments on September 26, The Times of India reports paving the way for the signing of a sales contract at a summit meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for October 5. As of October 1, however, the Indian government has not publicly confirmed that the CCS approved the $5.5 billion acquisition.

CAATSA is a US federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

However, any imposition of sanctions on India, which is now a major defence partner, could be disastrous for the bilateral relationship.

What is S-400?

It is an air defence missile system that can take down enemies’ aircraft in the sky from the surface itself.

The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system, capable of destroying destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km.

The S-400 is an upgraded version of the S-300 systems. The missile system, manufactured by Almaz-Antey, has been in service in Russia since 2007.

S-400 would be like a “booster shot” in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) arm. India needs to be well-equipped against neighboring threats. Pakistan has over 20 fighter squadrons, with upgraded F-16s, and inducting J-17 from China in large numbers. China has 1,700 fighters, including 800 4-Gen fighters.

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