1. India is set to deploy its own long-range air defence system by 2028-2029, capable of detecting and destroying incoming stealth fighters, aircraft, drones, cruise missiles, and precision-guided munitions at ranges of up to 350 kilometers.
2. This indigenous long-range surface-to-air missile (LR-SAM) system, developed under Project Kusha by the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), will have interception capabilities comparable to the Russian S-400 Triumf air defence system recently inducted by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
3. After receiving clearance from the cabinet committee on security in May 2022 for the development of the LR-SAM system as a "mission-mode" project, the defence ministry has approved the acceptance of necessity (AoN) for procuring five squadrons of this system for the IAF, at a cost of Rs 21,700 crore.
4. The mobile LR-SAM system, equipped with long-range surveillance and fire control radars, will include various interceptor missiles designed to engage hostile targets at distances of 150 kilometre, 250 kilometre, and 350 kilometre.
5. It will provide robust area air defence capabilities with a single-shot kill probability of not less than 80 per cent for single missile launches and not less than 90 per cent for salvo launches.
6. The LR-SAM is designed to offer comprehensive air defence coverage for both strategic and tactical vulnerable areas, and it can effectively engage high-speed targets with low radar cross-section.
7. This system is capable of intercepting fighter-sized targets at a 250-kilometre range, while larger aircraft like AWACS (airborne warning and control systems) and mid-air refuelers can be intercepted at a 350-kilometre range.
8. The LR-SAM's firing units will be integrated with the IAF's integrated air command and control system (IACCS), a fully automated air defence network designed to link military and civilian radars to enhance surveillance in Indian airspace.
9. While the Indian Army and Navy have their air defence systems, the IAF bears overall responsibility for safeguarding the nation's airspace. 10.
The IAF currently deploys a range of air defence weapons, including older systems like Igla, OSA-AK-M, and Pechora missiles, as well as newer systems such as the Israeli Spyder quick-reaction missiles (15-kilometre range), indigenous Akash area defence missiles (25 kilometre), and the Barak-8 medium-range SAM systems (over 70 kilometre), developed jointly with Israel.
11. In addition to the upcoming indigenous LR-SAM system, the IAF is also expecting the delivery of the remaining two S-400 Triumf squadrons over the next year, as part of a $5.43 billion contract inked in 2018. 12.
The first three S-400 squadrons, with a range of 380 kilometre, have been deployed in north-west and east India to provide air defence against both China and Pakistan, although there have been delays due to the Russia-Ukraine war.