India is purchasing 5 S-400 systems from Russia. No figures have been disclosed as to how many launchers and missiles India is purchasing from Russia. And unlike any aircraft deal where numbers are in the public domain much before actual inking of the contract, in this case no official details may ever be out as it will defeat the very national security it is meant to strengthen. Knowledge of launcher and missile count gives the adversary an idea of kind of attack he has to mount, the number of missiles or dummy drones he has to launch to defeat the air defence, a guesstimate how many launchers could be stationed in a particular region, the time lapse at which he has to fire the successive missiles, his own defence back up that has to be put in place in case pre-emptive strike is thwarted and so on. So only a speculation can be made with regards to the quantitative and qualitative part of the $5.43 billion deal.
S 400 SAM system has 4 missile variants.
400 km (40N6 missile)
250 km (48N6 missile)
120 km (9M96E2 missile)
40 km (9M96E missile)
Before India, China had signed the deal for S-400 in 2014 if that could show us some way and deliveries of the systems too have commenced from 2 Jan, 2018. In social media it is widely being circulated that China has not received the 40N6 missile having 400 kms range. This is being based on two premises. First that China is not a signatory to MTCR and second seems a rather ludicrous one that Russia was vary of China reverse-engineering its long range missile, so it denied 40N6 missile to China.
The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is an informal and voluntary multilateral export control regime among 35 countries to prevent the proliferation of missile and unmanned aerial vehicle technology capable of carrying above 500 kg payload for more than 300 km, but in case of offensive weapon systems. Given the lure of Chinese Renminbi, never mind if the amount was paid in dollars, Russia could have easily passed off 40N6 as a defensive weapon system. We have seen in the past that with their economic might, Chinese have been able to procure radars even from Western allies like Israel. Yes, whether China has developed an indigenous alternative doing away with the need to import 40N6, that is another matter. But so far we are as vague on nature and qualitative part of Chinese S-400 as we are in case of India.
2nd point is the cost. China has paid $3 billion for 6 S-400 systems. A source that is widely being quoted says that China has bought 6 battalions actually (2 systems) of S-400 whereas India is buying 5 systems including 15 battalions of S-400. If you think neutrally there can be a better explanation. First we take that Russia defines 1 system of S-400 as having more or less the same number of launchers and missiles, and capable of defending approximately the same expanse of territory. China bought 6 systems but since India signed the deal 4 years later, due to inflation and qualitative advancement in S-400 radars and missiles in the period, plus rise in demand of S-400, ended up paying $5.43 billion dollars for 5 S-400 systems. Had India ordered more S-400 systems, it would have started an arms race between China and India, so since China is a much bigger economy and to prevent an arms race, India in a tacit understanding with China ordered 5 systems to Chinese 6.
Now since S-400 is a defensive weapon, how many systems China has, doesn’t have direct bearing on air defence of India, so we leave the Chinese case there. Of course indirectly and in terms of deterrence even Chinese systems will influence our preparations, since more the systems they have greater the fire-power we shall need to to penetrate that, but here we take India’s case.
What does Wikipedia say about an S-400 system ? I quote verbatim : “One system comprising up to 8 divisions (battalions) can control up to 72 launchers, with a maximum of 384 missiles (including missiles with a range of less than 250 km (160 mi))”
It means one system has 8 battalions of S-400 missiles, each battalion has maximum of 72/8=9 Transport Erector Launchers. Each Transport Erector Launcher (TEL) has 378/9=14 launch tubes but since 384-378=6, some launchers may have 15 or 16 launch tubes. Now it is understandable smaller missiles may have more launch tubes per TEL as compared to TELs housing larger and heavier missiles.
Another source says that “The standard S-400 battery consists of 4 Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs), 4 launch tubes per TEL, in addition to target acquisition and engagement (fire control) radar systems and a command post (with an additional fire control radar system, a battery can consist up to 12 TELs). Two batteries make up a S-400 battalion (also known as a S-400 division).”
If we read the Wikipedia and above together it will show us :
1 S-400 System or Regiment = 8 battalions
1 Battalion or Division = 2 Batteries
1 Battery as a standard = 4 Transport Erector Launchers
Therefore, it more or less coincides with Wikipedia that a battalion (having 2 batteries) has 8-9 Transporter Erector Launchers. In case an additional fire control radar is connected a battery may have even 12 TELs, so a lot will depend on the configuration India has opted for given its own Israeli radars and other indigenous air defence systems.
Now we come to the number of missiles India is getting. One source says that India is getting about 6000 S-400 missiles. If we go by Wikipedia one S-400 System has a maximum of 384 missiles. So 5 active S-400 systems have 384×5= 1920 missiles. It will be logical in war to have at least two additional missiles in store for each missile fired. So since 2+1=3, it implies India is going to have 1920×3= 5760 S-400 missiles.
Of course, these are all speculations and higher functionaries in government and Indian Air Force know best what exactly India is going to have.