NEW DELHI — Contrary to the defense minister's claim in parliament Tuesday that the Indian Air Force will acquire five firing units of the S-400 long-range surface-to-air missile (LRSAM) system between 2017 and 2022, one senior Ministry of Defence (MoD) official who requested anonymity says a budget crunch will prevent such a purchase for at least two years.
"Our priority is to clear the global buy of $8.9 billion for Rafale fighters, $1.5 billion for very short range air defense (VSHORAD) man-portable systems and $1.5 billion in short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) systems. There is no money for other foreign purchases," the official said.
Five units of the Russian-made S-400 Triumf systems will cost $4.5 billion.
The S-400 Triumf system is capable of intercepting and destroying airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), and can simultaneously engage up to six targets.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) wants the S-400 systems to fill holes in its fledgling air defense strength and allow it to strike multiple targets, including ballistic missiles and stealth aircraft, a senior IAF official said.
"However, IAF has yet to conduct trials of S-400 systems in Russia," he said.