NEW DELHI: In a rare exercise, India’s air defence plans have been altered after an intervention by defence minister Parrikar that may have saved the taxpayer Rs 49,300 crore in acquisitions over the next decade.
Faced with the high cost of acquiring the Russian S 400 long range missile shield – the cutting edge system that can bring down incoming stealth fighters and missiles at a range of 380 km – the minister ordered a review of the 15 year long term plan to purchase new air defence systems upto 2027.
The recently concluded review, which involved a technical study by the air force and an evaluation of all available air defence systems in the world, has resulted in a consensus decision to cut down on purchase plans of shorter range missiles, senior officials have told ET.
Air defence strategy hinges around three layers – a short range system that protects high value installations upto 25 km, a medium range system that covers an area of around 40 km and a long range system for threats coming from further.
Sources told ET that the revaluation conducted by the air force concluded that with the S400 acquisition, the long term acquisition plan for over 100 each Medium and Short range systems have been cut down. “The study found that we will require a much lesser number of the shorter range systems. Minister Parrikar convinced the air force that according to its layered defence plan, the long range system (S 400) would make the larger number of MR SAM and SR SAM redundant,” a top official told ET. The S 400 is expected to cost $ 6.1 billion for five systems – the most expensive air defence system ever bought by India. But, on a per square km covered basis, if is the cheapest of known systems available globally.