India has long been a leading client for Russian weapons systems, and today has over twice as many S-400 battalions on order as China after signing a contract valued at over $5 billion in 2018.
The country’s efforts to build up a strategic missile force could be effective complemented by deployment of the S-500 system, which has the potential to counter new generations of Chinese and Pakistani ballistic and cruise missiles such as the DF-26.
China was notably the first country in the world to deploy hyper-sonic military aircraft with the WZ-8 drone unveiled in October 2019 – likely to be followed by multiple more advanced and ever faster classes – and the S-500 Prometheus provides perhaps the most effective means of countering such threats.
Although India has repeatedly been threatened with American economic sanctions should it purchase high end Russian armaments, Delhi has sharply rebuked efforts by Washington to use coercion to influence its arms acquisitions and is unlikely to be deterred from making an S-500 purchase.
The system will have an engagement range of at least 600 km and be able to engage targets in space – meaning that if sold abroad it would provide several countries with a serious upgrade to their anti-satellite capabilities.
Although the S-500 is being designed primarily to neutralize high value targets, it can also engage stealth fighters if needed, and its powerful sensor suite can network with and complement those of existing air defense systems such as the S-400 and S-300V4 to better allow them to counter stealth aircraft.
Although the S-500 is a much higher end system than the S-400 and S-300 platforms, it is expected to be marketed abroad for export much as all post-Soviet Russian multi-role air defense systems have been.
With the U.S. set to deploy a new generation of fighters, B-21 bombers and hyper-sonic space planes for both reconnaissance and bombing roles, the appeal of the S-500 is expected to be particularly high to provide a cost effective means to counter these threats.
Military Watch Magazine / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2020.