Russian terms

A Russian-speaking scientific source in touch with friends in Moscow said he was informed that the Kremlin had forwarded a note that mentioned certain things to the Modi government, chief among them are the following:

1) Russia’s readiness to have Indian Air Force fighter pilots test-fly the prototype FGFA (fifth generation fighter aircraft) was communicated to New Delhi many months back, so far eliciting no names of pilots Air HQrs want deputed for this test-flying stint (lasting from 6 months to a year). Moscow asked for the names to permit the Russians to do background checks on them and otherwise clear them for familiarization training. This is to include, besides classroom instruction, actually logging the necessary number of flying hours in two-seat trainers with Russian test pilots before they are permitted to take up the aircraft on solo flights. The Russians are afraid that allowing un-vetted “pro-Western” pilots may lead to the “secrets” of this aircraft — many new and novel technologies and aeroframe features — being leaked by them to the US and West European (French, British, German) government reps, and thence to their R&D labs, and defence industries.

2) The United Aircraft Corporation of Russia is also receptive to entertaining whatever new technologies and features they want incorporated in the “super Sukhoi” version of the Su-30. This super Sukhoi version will eventually replace the older Su-30MKIs, with the fleet size growing to some 272 + 45 or some 317 Super Sukhoi fighter-bombers in all in IAF. But these improvements need to be communicated soonest for the project to get underway. Especially, as the demand for Su-35 is revving up and some of the work force from the super Sukhoi line may have to be shifted to produce the Su-35.

3) Russia is also worried that in case the production of the US F-16/F-18 in India is approved by Modi, it will be difficult to keep the Russian technology from being accessed by Western technicians, whence the need has been voiced for a strict separation of the Russian aircraft and West-sourced combat aircraft all the way from operational location to production and servicing/maintenance. It is the sort of segregation, it may be recalled, US insisted on for its hardware since the 1990s (because they were afraid the Russioans would flick their technologies). With the F-16/F-18 level of technologies, even of the upgraded variety, these will be nowhere in the same league technologically as the super Sukhois and FGFAs. So now Russia has to be seriously concerned about thieving Western supplier states.

4) Moscow has also suggested a deadline of 4-6 months to finalize the super Sukhoi and FGFA contracts. It feels the Indian govt has tarried long enough, and the more time New Delhi is given to make up its mind, the more it will fritter away what its says are its scarce resources on Western equipment, leaving the Russian suppliers high and dry. For example, Rs 1,000 crore was found to buy an additional six Poseidon P-8Is for maritime reconnaissance, which minus the original avionics suite, amount to purchasing shells of the Boeing 737 plane but at three times the cost of the passenger aircraft, albeit with embedded wiring, etc. for plugging in various DRDO and private sector developed indigenous sensors, etc. [For some serious details in extenso on this subject, see a whole section on the P-8I as the flagship Indo-US project in my book ‘Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)’.] But, the Modi govt says it has no money to fund, in the same amount, the upgrading of Su-30MKIs to the super-Sukhoi configuration. This, according to the source, has left Moscow perplexed and angry.

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
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50 Responses to Russian terms

  1. Rahul(Kolkata) says:

    I am hearing for a long time IAF will end up with 300+ sukhois though IAF has made it clear that no more than 272 will be bought…Not sure from where these rumours are circulating…Maybe from the Russian embassy in New Delhi…

  2. andy says:

    As per this Indian express report cost of 4 additional P8i would be 6700 crore rupee.

    http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-news-india/indian-navy-orders-four-additional-p-8i-aircrafts-2889776/

    • &^%$#@! says:

      If the Indians insist on spending money to buy US weapons at this juncture of time and for whatever reasons, they should have bought more C-130J’s instead of a useless lemon like the P8I’s. That would be money well spent.

  3. Russia itself has refused to buy Pak-fa, instead they have decided to upgrade their older Su-27s,
    Mig-29 and Mig-31 of Russian Airforce.

    My dear friend Bharat, America is not interested in the technology of Pak-fa.For Americans it is obsolete.Technologically Pak-fa is at the level of F-117 nighthawk, a 1980s aircraft.Now you may not agree with me and continue to shout that Russia is a technological Powerhouse.Nothing can be done about it.

    • Shaurya says:

      Not the point. The US is ALWAYS interested in knowing about the capabilities of its principal global adversary/competitor.

    • andy says:

      “The analysis that I have seen on the PAK-FA indicates a pretty sophisticated design that is at least equal to, and some have said even superior to U.S. fifth-generation aircraft,” former U.S. Air Force intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Dave Deptula told the National Interest. “It certainly has greater agility with its combination of thrust vectoring, all moving tail surfaces, and excellent aerodynamic design, than does the F-35.”

      Indeed, the PAK-FA appears to be optimized for the air-superiority role like the F-22 more so than the multirole, strike-optimized F-35. Like the Raptor, the PAK-FA is being designed to fly high and fast to impart the maximum amount of launch energy to its arsenal of long-range air-to-air missiles—which would greatly increase the range of those missiles.
      “Performance-wise it certainly looks to compete with the Raptor,” one senior military official with extensive experience on U.S. fifth-generation fighters told the National Interest.

      • andy says:

        As is clear FROM US SOURCES the PAK FA (FGFA in India)will be BETTER THAN THE F35 and EQUAL TO F22 RAPTOR(if not better), so why are we dragging in other aircrafts for comparison using figments of our imagination. At least we should heed what senior US military officials have to say.

    • shankar singh says:

      A person who mistakes Apples (Pakfa) for oranges (F-117), knows neither apples nor oranges. Enough said!

  4. Vihan says:

    Dear Bharat,

    How accurate is this report of India wanting to buy the TU 22 M3? :

    http://www.canindia.com/india-seeking-four-tu22m3-strategic-bombers-from-russia/

    How does it compare with the Tu-160 Blackjack?

    Moreover, would this satisfy the need for a deep-penetration bomber?

    Lastly, can it be fitted with Brahmos?

    Thanks and Regards,

    – vihan

    • &^%$#@! says:

      The Tu-22M3 is certainly a potent a/c and can carry the BrahMos.. It a strategic bomber, and even more so with aerial refueling. Even in a/c where the refueling probe is removed because of US-FSU treaties, the plumbing is intact. However, I am skeptical of the deal/intent which seems to be announced only by Indian media sources. The Tu-160 is an altogether in a totally different league.

  5. &^%$#@! says:

    I would suspect that any Russian request that the Indians to speed up what they are pleased to call their decision making process is more because interest in the Su-30/35 family has increased after the Syrian campaign, rather than anything to do the MiG-35.

  6. &^%$#@! says:

    To the best of my knowledge, all the current Su T-50 a/c currently flying are single seat versions. I believe a two set trainer version is in the process of completion. Thus, most of the training will be done on simulators and/or modified Flankers. This is possibly the reason why the initial Indian demands that IAF pilots test fly the a/c could not be met.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      As an addendum, it is noteworthy to mention that even the US F-35 JSF lacks a 2 seat trainer version. Training is done on simulators, with the F-16 acting as the “bridge trainer”.

  7. andy says:

    The whole FGFA program seems to be in a state of flux ever since the IAF brass red flagged the process by raising many concerns related to the same, like underdevelopment engines,India’s dwindling work share etcThis probably was done to divert funds to the super expensive Rafale dea,it was difficult to understand then why IAF was bad mouthing a platform that would form the backbone of its fifth gen fleet,but now that a former IAF cheif is being implicated in a bribery scandal its becoming clear that the concerns raised were monetarily motivated to the detriment of the India’s defence preparedness.

    .Now it’s up to GOI to push this through a la Tejas,what with the Chinese already flight testing J20 and J 31 prior to induction in a couple of years. But with Modi succumbing to US pressures,the cancelled A5 tests being a case in point,one feels that both the FGFA and Super Sukhoi programs will be finalized only after the F16/F18 deal goes through.The recent decision to purchase an additional 4 P8I for more than a billion dollars is another example of GOIs attempts to keep Americans in good humor.

    With Russia imposing a dead line of 4 to 6 months for finalizing both these deals hanging fire, it remains to be seen wether this will lead to urgency in Indian decision making.

  8. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    @Andy, the PAKFA is essentially a Stealth Hunter with its reliance on IRST & L-Band sensors. The air superiority role just falls in its laps by default.

    But it is really funny how the Air HQ cannot even forward names of its own pilots, when in fact it raised such a hue and cry that they are not being allowed to fly the PAKFA.

  9. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    Had I been in Putin’s seat I would have promptly told GoI that they are free to rely on Western sources for whatever they want and that future Russian cooperation is unnecessary. The Soviets dropped support to China when Deng Xioping and cohorts messed up Sino-Soviet relations, on the pretext of Indo-China war but in reality for US benefits. And look what it got them – back to square one, like a buddhu.

    The best way to expose the idiots in GoI is to actually throw them a challenge. Make them perform. I bet most of them will have little more brains then an emigre NYC cab driver.

  10. andy says:

    As with most Russian aircraft the priority for FGFA is more on maneuvarability rather than stealth or sensors.The Russians generally do not have a requirement to fight inside a dense, highly advanced integrated air defense system (IADS) like a U.S. jet would. As such, while the PAK-FA does have stealthy features, it places far less emphasis on low observables technology than does the F-22 or F-35.It fails to prioritize stealth and sensor fusion making it more vulnerable to detection than say the F22 Raptor.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      WRT: “As with most Russian aircraft the priority for FGFA is more on maneuvarability rather than stealth or sensors”, this might well prove to be incorrect. The Russians are making significant strides in photonic radars and new networking paradigms, which will find their way into the PAK FA.

  11. andy says:

    The FGFA is also equipped with a powerful avionics suite, which is an evolution of Sukhoi’s work on the Flanker-series fighters.Indications are that the avionics are derived from the Su-35S with the addition of a very high power-aperture X-band multimode AESA radar,

    Further, there are indications that the FGFA is also equipped with L-band radar arrays, which are able to detect the presence of a fighter-sized stealth aircraft. While the L-band radar would not allow the FGFA to target a stealth aircraft, it would allow the pilot to focus the jet’s other sensors on a particular area of the sky.In addition to radars and electronic support measures, the FGFA is equipped with infrared search and track capabilities.

    The Russians have made enormous leaps in their sensor capabilities, The real question is can the FGFA achieve the same degree of data fusion and networking capabilities as the F22 Raptor?

    U.S. strategists are moving towards an approach where every aircraft or surface ship can act as a sensor for any aircraft, ship or vehicle that carries a weapon. The launch aircraft might not even guide the weapon once it has been fired. The U.S. Navy is already implementing a construct called the Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) that would do just that. The US Air Force, too, is working on something similar.

    In the future—while aerodynamic performance will continue to be important—speed, range and payload to a greater degree than maneuverability.Equally important will be the ability to ubiquitously share knowledge to the point that pilots have faster decision making advantage than any adversary,This is the notion of the ‘combat cloud.’ It’s about how the airforce integrate the sensor-shooters that are resident in systems coming online.

    If the FGFA can achieve true sensor fusion and comprehensive data links along with its inherent maneuverability then we have winner on our hands.Maneuverability is the knife in the piolts pocket when all else fails and it’s down to a knife fight, the aircraft with superior maneuvers will win.

  12. &^%$#@! says:

    When the Indian “experts” and media talk about the low availability of the Su-30 MKI, few people realize the extremely rudimentary conditions under which the Russians operated their Su-30’s -34’s, and -35S’s in Khmeimim Air Base during the Syrian campaign. The a/c flight lines were mostly outdoors (no air conditioned hangers), and the a/c were subjected to heat and even dust and sand storms. There is also talk that the Russian a/c were subjected to pretty severe electronic warfare by the US and its allies, which were countered (see links below on some Russian EW capabilities). It does appears that they stood up to these conditions very well, and managed to keep up an availability of 80+% at all times.

    http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/10/21/russia-winning-the-electronic-war/

    http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_lessons_from_russias_intervention_in_syria5085

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/war-in-syria-russia-s-rustbucket-military-delivers-a-hi-tech-shock-to-west-and-israel-a6842711.html
    http://www.popularmechanics.com/military/weapons/a18331/russias-military-tech/

    • andy says:

      The Indian Su 30 MKI has a similar experience, most are parked in an open area without any shelter against the elements except maybe a rudimentary one made of corrugated sheets,the older hangers are not big enough to accommodate this giant bird.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        @andy: Yes, I know and have seen the situation. I just wanted to make the point that the MoD and IAF are to a large extent responsible for the alleged “low availability” of the Su-30 MKI, though I recall seeing a CAG report a few years ago giving contrary figures.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        ,,,,I mean contrary to the common belief of the “low availability” of the Su-30MKI’s.

  13. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    PAKFA perhaps may not even need the same degree of data fusion as F-35 or F-22. Russians traditionally make the best use of physics with available tech capabilities and let that decide the size of the platform. West is so focused on miniaturization that they have to let go of the benefits of physics.

    So a Russian will bring more missiles, bigger sensor apertures and longer endurances to a fight. While west will have to focus on miniaturization for cost reasons. Because after all force projection costs inordinately more than defence. When the West decided to look at stealth, they turned several series of whole aircrafts and eventually ships and submarines into stealthy examples. Russians were content to follow up on demonstrated technology development paths but then they brought the learned physics to a smaller but longer ranged package in the form of Kalibr missiles. Its just natural that Russian technology will be suitable for similarly budget challenged nations.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      Good observations!!!!

    • andy says:

      Yea,I am aware how the Russians go about creating weapon systems thats why I stated above…The Russians generally do not have a requirement to fight inside a dense, highly advanced integrated air defense system (IADS) like a U.S. jet would. As such, while the PAK-FA does have stealthy features, it places far less emphasis on low observables technology than does the F-22 or F-35.It fails to prioritize stealth and sensor fusion making it more vulnerable to detection than say the F22 Raptor….but since we are discussing fifth gen aircraft it’s only natural to compare PAK FA with F22 Raptor and try to analyse where they stack up against each other.

      Anyways we should probably be stacking up the Chinese J20 against the FGFA it’s potential adversary number 1,that would be a more realistic scenario from the Indian point of view.Having a purely stealth aircraft is undesirable due to the immense costs involved in creating those features ($ 1 trillion and counting for the F35 development) that could probably be easily nullified by a $500 million S400 missile battery.

  14. andy says:

    At any rate stealth is not really an invisibility cloak as the American manufacturers and war planners are pitching it. The 1999 downing of the American F-117 stealth fighter by a highly motivated and well-trained Serbian anti-aircraft battery was a huge slap in the face of the American stealth industry.

    The Serbians used a 1960s vintage ,yet highly advanced , Russian S-125 Neva/Pechora surface to air missile conjointly with a P18 metre band radar. They were able to bring down the F-117 within 18 seconds of detection ,this a stark example of the vulnerability of stealth aircraft.If this what a 1960s vintage Russian air defence system can achieve ,imagine what the latest S400 system can do.

      • ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

        @Andy, I agree its not just about data fusion as you mentioned but also about stealth. Remember since late 80s people just used to mention stealth as something that becomes invisible to radars. Since then the only thing that has changed is that now they mention an RCS figure with several zeros after a decimal. But the understanding is still stuck at 80s level. Nobody ever questioned how a singular figure ever represent an capability. Would the enemy radar comply with RCS figures – after all RCS is dependent as much on radar as on the reflecting surface.

        Till PAKFA turned up and specifically mentioned average RCS and front RCS reduction. After that everybody in western world began to admit it. Later on India, Japan and Europeans specifically included those new frontal RCS reduction as a parameter and began to make things understandable.

        But you are wrong about S-400. I don’t know why this itch for longer ranged SAMs when in fact it is the smaller ranged quick reaction SAMs ambushes that really matter in the battlefield. That ambush tactic is what Zoltan Dani used. He was not depending upon some esoteric seeker or guidances. It was all run of the mill.

        About the only use for S-400 in Indian context is the need to make up for the delay in the Indian BMD. Even that is however doubtful since the Russian sources themselves have argued against the utility of BMDs when they try to counter the US BMD in Europe. And mostly they are right. All BMDs are today calibrated against non-maneuvering, non-decoy targets. In fact the Aegis has only recently, for the first time targeted a ‘sophisticated separating warhead’. Till date they used to rely on targeting the missile body. Hence the absolute need to target in boost phase. The Russian objections continue to remain valid even in the S-400 BMD context. And if that is translated into the Indian context then it becomes even more stark. In not to distant future even Pakis will have access to BM decoys if they do not already have it. The Chinese must be waiting for India to order the S-400 to do just that. Never make it easy for your opponent to degrade your counter-stance.

        But I know for certain the SAM role of S-400 would be very very limited for us. S-400 will face Radar horizon issues in SAM role and that will force it to become a sniper for high flying aircrafts. Now there are a lot of high flying support aircrafts (Refuelers, AWACS, Bombers) in western europe (Russian need) and Far East (Chinese need). What do we have in Pakistan and Tibet? Ziltch. Pakis AEWC will be hit by Prahaar on ground, where they simply must come after every 10 hour flight. Chinese have about 20 refuelers for their whole land mass and may be 3/4 AWACS. Where is the need?

        Modi govt. at a certain level is continuing with the old but silly policy of using weapons imports as a quid pro quo for buying influence. If MMS bought useless type P-8I then how is the latest round of importing any different?

        My phokat ki 2 kaudi – when thinking about SAMs/BMDs stop thinking technology, Start thinking exchange ratios and ambushes. And these do not require too much expenditures.

      • andy says:

        Though there is certain merit in what you say about the S400, one cannot 100% agree for the following reasons.At $500 million(cost of 2 bare bones Rafale) for a S400 missile battery its not such a bad deal.Even after spending a trillion dollars on the F35 the Americans are not sure wether it can evade this system purchased from Russia by China.

        The S400 has a lot of deterrance capability, also by getting the adversary into an arms race in their quest for finding counter measures, it will certainly degrade at least pakistans defence budget.With a tracking range of 600 km and the ability to hit targets 400 km away at a blistering speed of 17,000 km an hour – faster than any existing aircraft–the S-400 is a truly scary weapon if you are facing its business end.Each S-400 battery has eight launchers, a control centre, radar and 16 missiles available as reloads.

        Unlike the overhyped US Patriot missile that turned out to be a dud in battle, the S-400 was designed to create the daddy of Iron Domes. “Given its extremely long range and effective electronic warfare capabilities, the S-400 is a game-changing system that challenges current military capabilities at the operational level of war,” Paul Giarra, president, Global Strategies and Transformation, told Defense News. The S-400 will have the “effect of turning a defensive system into an offensive system, and extend China’s A2/AD (anti-access/area-denial) umbrella over the territory of American allies and the high seas.”

        THE S-400 won’t be easy to shake off. “It has many features specifically designed to overcome countermeasures and stealth, such as a larger, more powerful radar that is more resistant to jamming. It also actually has a set of three missiles of varying range that provide overlapping layers of defense,” Ivan Oelrich, an independent defence analyst told The Diplomat.It’s precisely this concept of triple layered defence that makes the S400 a ballistic missile killer, since there’s a certain limit to the counter measures a BM can carry.

        “Pentagon officials are in an awkward position. If the Pentagon was to invest in more electronic warfare aircraft – such as the Growler – it would signal a lack of faith in the F-35’s capability to penetrate enemy airspace. Equally, if it didn’t invest in additional electronic warfare capabilities, the lives of F-35 pilots could be at risk with the proliferation of more advanced A2/AD weapons(S400) in countries such as China.”

        According to Air Power Australia, “The S-300P/S-400 family of surface to air missile systems is without doubt the most capable SAM system in widespread use in the Asia Pacific region.”

        As in life, so in defence maybe a middle path can be found by inducting a bare minimum of S400 missile batteries.

  15. &^%$#@! says:

    When the Indian “experts” and media talk about the low availability of the Su-30 MKI, few people realize the extremely rudimentary conditions under which the Russians operated their Su-30’s -34’s, and -35S’s in Khmeimim Air Base during the Syrian campaign. The a/c flight lines were mostly outdoors (no air conditioned hangers), and the a/c were subjected to heat and even dust and sand storms. There is also talk that the Russian a/c were subjected to pretty severe electronic warfare by the US and its allies, which were countered (see links below on some Russian EW capabilities). It does appears that they stood up to these conditions very well, and managed to keep up an availability of 80+% at all times.

  16. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    @Andy, I don’t doubt that S-400 is a good system. What I strongly doubt is if its good for us.

    Recently the Sunflower OTH radar was hyped by the Russians. They have by their own reports agreed that the Horizon problem is real for the existing S-400 radars and further that the older OTH radars were simply too bulky to be mated to S-400 in a nice small transportable package. They have kept the range of Sunflower limited to around 500 km. The same as that is there for the S-band radar in the S-400 package. The problem is multifold:

    1) the radar coverage of >400 km is for bomber sized targets. The kind of targets that fly over the Tiwan, Japan and NATO areas. Very limited numbers of these kinds of aircrafts fly in our vicinity.

    2) S-400 has a potent deterrence value, in that even the civilian traffic over western europe and Japan can be literally blockaded. What traffic goes over Pakistan and Tibet?

    3) The Sunflower radar is meant to address the weaknesses of the S-400 for OTH detection. But it can be beaten by the simple Vietnam era tactics of flying tight real tight formations. It will only see one small blob made up of several small blob, while from 100 km away there will be a real big blob made up of just one F-35/JF-17 trailing behind it some 2/3 long ropes each with several 2/4 feet copper lengths sewn onto those ropes. The Sunflower then will act less to guide and more to inject confusion into the air defence system.

    4) Sunflower could help refine the search pattern of higher band radars, but to get confirmation from these higher band more accurate radars you will still have to face the radar horizon problem which will limit search to a >40 odd km again by which time the real tight aircraft formation or the Cruise missiles, would have dropped down to just the nape of the earth level. Actually even Brahmos does this kind of trick where just 1 Brahmos uses its scanner and the rest of the salvo flying much below just follow its lead using the datalink.

    Not that there are not solutions to these problems. Its just that the solutions need not be a part of S-400 and nobody needs to buy an S-400 to just to create first a problem for itself.

    Here refer this:

  17. andy says:

    Not withstanding any technical shortfall in the radar India’s S400 procurement is not a zero-sum project that will either protect the country or won’t. Rather, it is part of a strategic escalation that will have far-reaching geopolitical impact, especially on Pakistan.

    A detailed study titled ‘On the Strategic Value of Ballistic Missile Defence’ by the French Institute of International Relations explains how BMD works to unhinge the enemy’s strategy. According to the study,
    BMD:
    *Creates uncertainty about the outcome of an attack in the mind of the attacker.
    *Increases the raid size required for an attack to penetrate, thereby, undermining a strategy of firing one or two and threatening more thus reducing coercive leverage.
    *Provides some assurance against risks of precipitate action by the aggressor.
    *Buys leadership time for choosing and implementing courses of action, including time for diplomacy.
    *Reduces the political pressure for pre-emptive strikes.

    In short, a robust missile defence system helps to put the burden of escalation in an emerging crisis on to the adversary. When a crisis has become a hot war, then missile defence again has various strategic values.
    It:
    *Helps to preserve freedom of action by selectively safeguarding key military and political assets.

    *Increases time and opportunity to attack adversary’s missile force with kinetic and non-kinetic means, potentially eliminating his capacity for follow-on attacks or decisive political or military effects.

    India’s posession of a missile defence system will complicate the Pakistani military’s war planning. The Indian Army’s Cold Start strategy, for instance, has put huge pressure on the Pakistani economy by forcing Islamabad to crank up the production of nuclear weapons as well as delivery systems such as ballistic, cruise and tactical missiles,spending upto 2.5 billion dollars per year in the process.The beauty of cold start is that India may never have to use it, just the fact it exists is enough to disorient the Rawalpindi Generals and make them spend meager resources. Same applies to the S400, in their quest for parity the Pakistanis will end up spending more than they can afford.

    • Andy@– Don’t mean to intervene in this informed and insightful disc between you and mongrelji but most of these points re-BMDs are covered in my book — Why India is Not a Great power (Yet). My conclusion was that insofar as the Indian BMD increases uncertainty for the aggressor, can be used as an anti-satellite (low orbit) weapon, and is the most networkcentric of any security system (missiles slaved to Greenpines/Swordfish radar) and will act as model for emulation in the Indian military — the last two points Saraswat’s take on the system, a BMD, which otherwise cannot neutralize an incoming salvo and cost-wise is unaffordable — missiles can be built at a fraction of the cost to defend against them, even so it may not be a bad thing to keep if only as a testbed for more futuristic interdiction technologies.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      IMHO, Indian ABM systems need to be used in real life testing and obtaining some estimation of the re-entry vehicles of delivery systems as to their ability to evade a hypothetical opponent’s ABM system.

  18. andy says:

    @Bharat Karnad
    But wouldn’t the S400 be a good buy for India,considering that China already has it?apart from all its other merits or should the focus be on indigenous R and D even though we may trail the Chinese by 15 years in such capabilities. The J20 and AMCA are a case in point,AMCA will trail the J20 by 15 years at least so we buy FGFA in the interim.

    • Andy@ — S400 is only a superior anti-aircraft system, but as a BMD is host to all the problems all BMD systems have faced — the inability to takeout incoming missiles except with a fluke shot, which’s not a bankable kill-rate, because physics is against it. If AAD is all the S400 is really good for — whatever its overhyped and advertised performance, then, surely, it will be cost-benefit-wise, not a good buy. Especially, as other more critical projects can be funded with the monies thus saved.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        True to a large degree. Some of the requirements include robust trajectory prediction and decision making paradigms. However, I believe that the S-400 is an excellent buy if the Russians sell it to India.

      • &^%$#@! says:

        BTW, physics isn’t against BMD’s. It’s just that they have to go beyond “controlled experiments”.

  19. &^%$#@! says:

    The Indians could have taken advantage of their vast number of cell phone towers to double up to form part of a large bi-static/multi-static radar network.

  20. ~!@#$%^&*()_+ says:

    Not to doubt the utility of S-400 for Russia and China. Russians have the upper hand in negotiations for the US-BMD in Europe, because of S-400. S-400 allows the Russians to threaten exponentially more, inside Europe than what the US-BMD ever can inside Russia. Chinese understand this and they too would like to keep the Far East under similar leash. But our priorities are different. That is why we should not buy S-400 merely because the Chinese have it.

    In the BM vs. BMD debate, If all the available leverages/ideas are immediately made available for both systems, today, within the limitations of them as they are currently planned/mooted/ideated (based on western constructs of missile defence), then my very strong suspicion is that the BM would still manage to get through while even the best BMD would just about be effective in niche applications for a reasonable cost.

    For unreasonable cost, you can off course, save the whole world. But for reasonable cost today you will be able to save a few high value assets at the most which should give you all the advantages you listed elsewhere here. S-400 is definitely superior to PAD/AAD in several different ways but it is a solution for a problem we don’t yet have. If Modi ji wants to give money to Russians, the AGAT seeker, FGFA and Nuke subs, are far far more deserving and use the saved money on PAD/AAD.

    From an engineering perspective there will be some very exciting times ahead for both BM and BMD. Personally I would support the stand of Dr. Saraswat. Yes, the S-400 has elements of that exciting future, just as some other US systems being mooted have too. We need to be able to design our own future for which we are appropriately placed too.

    One big problem is that the current military & strategic circles think in terms of multiple-role / omni-role combat. This imposes huge costs especially in terms of support infrastructure, mobility and deployability. OTOH a keen attacker can always get a specialized but inexpensive weapon – his only problem remains mobility.

    • &^%$#@! says:

      IMHO not buying the S-400 just because the Chinese have it is not a sound argument. If deployed and used properly, regardless of a hypothetical opponent’s knowledge of a weapon system it will still have to deal with it. That will degrade the capabilities of the hypothetical opponent, at the very least. The S-400 which India seeks differs in some aspects from that operated by China. Further, even if the systems are the same, the S-400 is a relatively new system and it will take quite some time before effective counter measures are developed against it by a hypothetical opponent. This logic however does not apply to the F-16 since it has been in the PAF inventory for around 3 decades. It is an archaic weapon system with very little scope for any meaningful qualitative enhancement, and the PAF can safely extrapolate from its own extensive experience and devise methods to tackle and defeat it.

  21. andy says:

    @Bharat Karnad
    Well the issue is settled.Can understand now how advantage of my not having read your book(need to rectify this short coming) was taken ,been led up a blind alley It was a spirited defense none the less based on cogent arguments.But talk about going off on a tangent, an innocuous discussion on the FGFA leading to a full blown row on the S400.Apologies for taking up so much of your space and time,will surely avoid such juvenile digression in future.

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