For over a month now the Indian media has bombarded us with their defence related news. But how credible is it? Lets check it by taking the example of the coverage on S-400 that India is buying from Russia.
“It can take down stealth aircraft” (says, Times of India)[i] – But really can they? NO, it cannot- Stealth aircrafts are visible in L band. But images/signals in the L band are too small/weak for SAM systems to target so radars in systems like S-400 uses X and UHF bands for targeting.
“India will buy 5 S-400 systems and place 3 in the Chinese and 2 and the Pakistani border” (Source: Indian Express)[ii]– There are two elements here- Firstly, air defence of a country is not a child’s board game – where you place 3 here, 2 there and 1 here. It is a net of synchronized, inter-operable systems which are based on the principles of counter-measures and fail-safes.
If someone behaves like a kid and places S-400s like the Indian Express is saying “2 here and 3 there”- you will have incidents like the one in Ukraine were a civilian plane was shot down by a BUK SAM.
Secondly, buying 5 S-400 systems means that they will be protecting 5 important cities/defence installations/strategic areas not the entire country. So, if your city is not amongst those 5 areas, then I am sorry there is no reason for you to celebrate India’s purchase of S-400. The Indian media is actually telling you this but they are putting a positive spin on this and making the S-400 look like a full proof BMD (Ballistic Missile Defence) system or as they are calling it the “Daddy of Iron Dome” (Source: The Financial Express). Both the Iron Dome and other BMD systems provide only area/city based protection not a fool proof protection for the entire country.
For the record, India has around 500 cities (Source:2011 Census).
In conclusion, the defence news in the mainstream Indian media is usually ill researched, so you need to be very cautious before believing anything they say.
(Note: The image is from RT.com)
[ii] http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/india-russia-expected-to-sign-over-dozen-agreements-in-defence-energy-fields-3084045/ and http://www.financialexpress.com/india-news/s-400-triumf-rs-39000-crore-for-russias-formidable-air-defence-missile-system-would-be-money-well-spent-by-india/418334/