Air Defence Systems have been traditionally used to protect vital military establishments. (PTI File Photo)
The rivalry between Russia and the United States is longstanding and has pertained since the years of the Cold War. On the economic and diplomatic fronts, America is a viable partner for any country and emerges out to be more than a good friend whenever logjam prevails on the global arena. But when it comes to comparing both rivals, Russia and the United States, on the parameters of defence manufacturing and combat capabilities, Moscow chips in from nowhere and runs neck and neck with Washington.
Recently, the attack on Aramco, Saudi oil facility, posed worrying signs for not only the Kingdom which was at the receiving end, but also for the US that has always stood as its protector. The oil facilities were under the defensive umbrella of Patriot PAC-2 surface-to-air missile batteries, which, however, did not prove to be effective enough to prevent the assault on the facility. Although the Saudi radars detected some drones and cruise missiles (as debris suggest), it was already late for the Kingdom to respond. Being forced to fire haphazardly and sporadically, the Saudis were cluelessly understanding whether the possession of American ‘Patriot’ was in any way going to protect them.
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Taking a potshot at US Air defence systems in the aftermath of attacks on Aramco, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said, "We still remember the fantastic US missiles that failed to hit a target more than a year ago, while now the brilliant US air defence systems could not repel an attack."
In a meeting with Turkish and Iranian leaders in Ankara, Russian President Vladimir Putin went further by suggesting that Saudi Arabia would have been saved from the attack had they purchased a Russia-made missile defence system.
"The political leadership of Saudi Arabia just needs to make a wise state decision," Putin added.
Moreover, the arrival of Russia’s S-400 Triumph Defence System comes as a challenge for America’s Patriot. It, along with Patriot, has hogged the limelight and is being ordered by various countries despite its huge cost and maintenance. Russia has entered into deals with nations like China and Turkey with India becoming the latest entrant in the list of S-400 seekers.
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According to defenseworld.net report, the maximum target speed that S-400 can notch up to is 4.8 kilometres per second while PAC-3 manages just 1.30 Km/second. With an operational range of 400 kms, Russia’s S-400 stands way ahead of Patriot, with a range less than 200 kms. When it comes to 'flight altitude', PAC appears to have a maximum range of up to 24.2 kms but on the other hand, S-400's top variant can take a flight up to maximum 185 kms. As far as unleashing weaponry on the enemy object is concerned, S-400 leads by a huge margin against America's 'protector'. The former has eight launchers with 32 missiles and a mobile command post while PAC has eight-round firing capacity with mobile trainable semi-trailer features.
A comparative analysis between S-400 and America's Patriot, unlike all other defence comparisons, appears to have a winner.
Air Defence Systems have been traditionally used to protect vital military establishments which include strategic bases and troops on the front line. However, the US military abruptly downsized its short-range anti-missile defence system after the Cold War with the feeling that its jets were capable enough to counter most of the enemy aircraft before entering its skies.
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On the contrary, a variety of Russia-manufactured defence equipment are either shielding countries against exigencies or offering them an option to launch an offensive-defence. For example, Turkey considers the cancellation of F-35 deal with the US as a 'blessing in disguise' for the fact that the 'procurement' of Russian S-57, in most probability, will make it a force to reckon with in the middle east stretching up to the European air space.
With events unfolding fast in the middle east, signals are good for India and its S-400 deal. India seems to have fixed its preferences and the deal appears to be part of a well-formed strategy of India's defence mechanism in the decades to come. In the wake of American 'Patriot' failing to guard the Saudis, New Delhi can pat its back for the Deal Done.