Indian Air Force

With S-400 missiles on schedule, India prepares for air defence command

File Photo: Russian-origin S-400 air defence missile.

New Delhi: India is preparing a plan for creating an air defence military formation at the top level that will strengthen its capabilities against enemy aircraft, helicopters, drones and missiles.

The plan, to be the first task to be taken up by the newly created office of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), will be ready by June 20, according to a Ministry of Defence statement.

India’s first-ever CDS General Bipin Rawat gave the direction to prepare the proposal to create the Air Defence Command — to be led by a three-star General-rank officer or an equivalent from the navy or the air force — in his first ever meeting with important functionaries of the Integrated Defence Staff (IDS) headquarters here yesterday.

India is in the midst of strengthening its air defence preparedness with the induction of the Russian-made S-400 Triumf missiles slated for delivery by 2021. India and Russia had signed a contract worth $5.43 billion for the S-400 missiles in 2018. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of 400 km and at an altitude of up to 30 km.

General Rawat, who had taken over his new role as CDS yesterday, also directed the branch heads of the Headquarters IDS to come up with recommendations for inter-services synergy and jointness in a time-bound manner.

He also set out priorities for execution of synergy by June 30 and Dec. 31. Some of the areas identified for jointness and synergy include creation of common logistics support pools in stations where two or more services have their presence.

Emphasising a collegiate system of functioning, General Rawat directed that all three services and Coast Guard must be consulted and their views obtained in a time-bound manner.

Decisions will, however, be taken to ensure optimisation of resources. Efforts will be made to cut out infructuous ceremonial activities, which are manpower intensive, the statement said.

While India already had the Strategic Forces Command as a tri-service formation that handled nuclear weapons, India created the Andaman & Nicobar Command headquartered at Port Blair after the 1999 Kargil war.

In the recent years, India has set up three key agencies — Space, Cyber and Special Forces — to be converted into a Command-level force at a later date.

All these form the tri-services military formations that already come under the CDS office.

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