India extended military support to Afghanistan
With US forces retreating from Afghanistan following peace talks between Afghanistan and Taliban, India has extended mopped up military support to its Asian neighbour. This was assured by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on his telephonic conversation with his Afghan counterpart Mohd. Haneef Atmar.
Peace deal between Afghanistan and Taliban was signed on 29 Feb 2020 in Doha, negotiated by US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad in presence of US Secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
Talks are being resumed in Doha with Khalilzad present. Meanwhile he has expressed concerns over growing violence, mass bombings and targeted killings in Afghanistan. This goes against the spirit of Afghan people who are longing for peace.
As Taliban is coming back to mainstream politics, Afghanistan is garnering national and international support for peace talks. India supports Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled peace and reconciliation process. This was assured by India last year, when Abdullah Abdullah, chairman of high Council for National Reconciliation visited India.
India has been ramping up military assistance to Afghanistan since 2016. It has supplied 4 active helicopters and is actively engaged in infrastructure building in the country having already invested $2 Billion. Afghanistan considers India’s support crucial amid those peace talks which will be held with new government at the helm in US.
India is moving ahead to induct advanced S-400 Triumf
India is moving ahead with great zeal to induct advanced S-400 Triumf surface to air missile systems from Russia. India got a waiver from US under its CAATSA (Countering American Adversaries through Sanctions Act),2017, and it can buy Russian weapons which has been prohibited under this act. India has signed $5.43 Billion contract with Russia for 5 mobile squadrons in 2018 which will be delivered by April 2023.
For training in operations and maintenance of massive S-400 systems, a team of 100 officers and airmen will leave for Russia by the end of January. Second team will follow them shortly after.
Delivery of 1st squadron is expected to start from September-October this year. The S-400s can detect, track and destroy hostile strategic bombers, jets, spy planes, missiles and drones with interception ranges of 120,200,250 and 380 km. It also possess battle management systems of command posts and launchers, long range acquisition and engagement radars and all-terrain transporter and erector vehicles.
S-400 systems will be positioned on western, northern and eastern sectors to deal with Chinese and Pakistani threats. Out of 128 missiles in each battery, the system automatically picks up the most suited one to launch attack. Its radars with primary acquisition, one with a 600 km range, can track 100s of targets simultaneously.
S-400s can intercept ballistic missiles with velocity of 4800 meters per second as well as “Radar Lock and Shoot down” 5th Generation Stealth fighters like American F-35 Lightening-II jets.
India remains a steadfast US defence partner and wouldn’t compromise on any defence related matter. This has helped India bypass US sanctions that have been imposed on China and Turkey. Main reason being S-400s capacity to tackle and bring down electronic warfare and other capabilities of F-35 fighters, by its powerful acquisition and engagement radars if operated together.