India’s capability to detect and destroy hostile fighters, strategic bombers, missiles and drones at long ranges will get another major boost when anew squadron of the S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems becomes operational along the northern borders with China in the next two to three months.
Sources say deliveries of the second operational S-400 squadron through ships and aircraft are now underway from Russia, the first since the Russia-Ukraine war erupted on February 24. The new S-400 deliveries come at a time when China has cranked up its air activity across eastern Ladakh, with Chinese fighters often flying close to the Line of Actual Control in violation of the 10-km no-fly zone confidence building measure between the two sides.
“Chinese fighter deployments and sorties have gone up along the 3,488-km LAC since mid-June, especially across Ladakh, but also in other sectors like Arunachal Pradesh. There are often two-three Chinese fighter sorties near the LAC in a day,” a source said.
A Chinese jet had even flown over Indian troop positions at a friction point in eastern Ladakh on June 28, which led IAF to scramble its own jets and later raise the matter with China. China has systematically upgraded all its major air bases facing India like Hotan, Kashgar,Gargunsa and Shigatse, with extended runways, hardened shelters and fuel storage facilities for additional fighters, bombers and reconnaissance aircraft, over the last two years. It has also deployed two Russian-origin S-400 batteries and several other anti-aircraft systems to tackle any air strikes.
Apart from matching the military deployments, India till now has also managed to stave off sanctions under the US law seeking to prevent countries from buying Russian weapons. India told the US that the S-400 systems are an “urgent national security requirement” to counter its hostile neighbours.