With Indian Govt. opting for S400 missile defence system (MDS) for securing the borders of India it is a welcome decision. A decision that should have been put into effect a lot earlier. It is heartening to see defence planners thinking on a comprehensive strategy to counter the possible threats perceived by the Indian defence advisors & organization. The thinking behind the induction of MDS S400 is a part of that strategy which emphasises on countering possible threats in the form of destructive missiles & invading fighter aircrafts emanating from across the border of India with the perception of two front war percieved by our defence analysts and defence wings. The decision making and the initiative that of the Indian Govt. in this regard is quite appreciable.
Why only S400 of Russia for Indian borders?
S400 has the farthest range of performance envelope and is most efficient and dared missile defence system amongst the prevalent ballistic missile defence shields. Russia historically have provided India with defence equipment of crucial capabilities bolstering her deterrence capabilities. Hence Russian S400 system becomes a natural choice.
Determining number of MDS required to protect the Indian borders.
When one considers the number of S400 systems(12 systems) decided to be implemented it seems that the military planners have either thought of deterring threats at few sections of the length of the country's border or the induction of more MDS like the S400 throughout the country shall be a gradual process thereby covering greater lengths of country's border.
Number of MDS like S400 that may be required to defend the aforesaid threat perception can be reached through an analysis which is as follows:
Flying distance across the length and breath of India stands at 2755 Kms (approx., but can be more) from Kashmir to Kanya Kumari and 2151 Kms from Gandhi Nagar to Itanagar ( length is incomplete, a correct estimate of the distance from extreme west to the north eastern tip of Arunachal Pradeshand will be more) respectively. Taking into account the whole of India's borders we can divide it into 7 sections.
From Kanya Kumari up till the northern tip of Sikkim, from Kanya Kumari till extreme west of Rajasthan ,from The northern tip of Sikkim till J & K (excluding POK), from extreme west of Rajasthan till J&K (excluding POK), the eastern region from northern tip of Sikkim till Arunachal Pradesh , Andaman & Nicobar islands and Lakshyadeep.
Taking into consideration the curvatures of the landscape with 30% redundancy into account for comprehensive coverage ensuring overlapping domains of coverage and the demand of extreme quick reaction from the nearest MDS ( quick reaction required due to the curvatures of borders ) having probability of quickest interseption would require approximately 68 MDS of S400 with the overlapping domains. The overlapped domains of coverage having at least 100 Kms as common coverage area between 2 MDS should be another criteria for calculations to determine the number of required MDS.
From Kanya Kumari up till the northern tip of Sikkim and extreme west of Rajasthan 7 + 30% redundancy = 7 + 3 (2.1 rounded up to 3)=10 MDS, so 10 x 2=20 units of S400 should be required (each side with 10 S400s).
From The northern tip of Sikkim till J & K (excluding POK) and from extreme West of Rajasthan till J&K 5 + 30% redundancy = 5 + 2 (1.2 rounded up to 2) =7 DM,so 7 x 2=14 (each side with 7 S400) S400 will be required.
Likewise from Northern most tip of Sikkim till Southern most tip of Mizoram the requirement should be 2 + 30% redundancy = 2 +1 =3 MDS.
Likewise from southern most tip of Mizoram till extreme south east of Arunachal Pradesh the requirement should be 2 +1 =3 MDS. Across the extreme south east to north of Arunachal Pradesh the requiement should be 1 +1 =2 MDS. From Extreme North of Arunachal Pradesh till Extreme West of Arunachal Pradesh the requiement should be 1+1 =2 MDS. From thereon till Northern tip of Sikkim the requiement should be 2 + 30% redundancy = 2+1=3 MDS. Actually military planners should keep provision for 4 more MDS in this eastern region from Northern tip of Sikkim till Arunachal Pradesh taking into account the acuteness of the curvatures of the landscape and obstacles. Since Myanmar and Bangladesh does not feature in serious threat perceptions so a total of strategically placed 13 MDS according to percieved threat should suffice.
Likewise, Andaman and Nicobar islands merit 3 S400 systems i.e. 2+1 MDS. and Lakshyadeep 2 MDS i.e. 1+1 .
In addition to the conclusive numbers of MDS to be implemented 9 (5 for bordrs with Pakistan + 4 for the Eastern region including Sikkim till Arunachal Pradesh) more MDS should be in reserve for unforeseen contingencies keeping in mind the POK region and other sensitive regions along China & Pakistan borders, and, another 7 for cannibalizing during war.
Army/Air force will have to ensure to protect the MDS from threats emanating from inside the country. Such systems along with the calculated redundancies have to be placed in active mode all along the designated section of the border. MDS in reserve should be placed or moved according to evolving threat perceptions and percieved locations of usage. Missiles of such systems have to be available in sufficient numbers per system for quick installation after a launch. Follow on replacements against the initial reserve of such missiles systems would be required keeping in mind their shelf life. Like every system has its own maintenance cycle the MDS won't be an exception. But all in all it will be a very potent inclusion in the inventory of the army/air force making it extremely capable of meeting arial threats from outside the borders of India.
Apart from acquiring missile defence systems like S400 by means of import India should try to develop her own missile defence system to avoid dependence on foreign made defence equipment. But Indian defence industry seems to be deficient of that technological knowhow. Since Russia is the traditional partner providing top notch defence equipment and India is not looking towards US missile defence system like THAAD it may be a potent proposal for India to put forward to Russia in a Govt. to Govt. dialog to make S400 in India for induction into Indian defence. In that way the full umbrella of missile defence system can be achieved without importing all the S 400 systems to India.
By D Kumar