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Air Defense: S-400 Moves West
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February 28, 2008: Belarus is buying the S-400 anti-aircraft system from Russia. This system is similar to the U.S. Patroit, and is expensive. Belarus is broke, but is a close ally of Russia, and will apparently get a good terms and a low price. This will also provide at least one export customer. Russia is unsure if they want to export S-400 right away, but they do want to deploy the S-400 system where it will do the most good, and pro-Russian Belarus is a good place to put the missiles.

 

Last Summer, the first S400 battalion (eight launchers, each with four missiles, plus a control center and radar, around Moscow) officially became operational. A second battalion will be deployed in the same area later this year. The Russians claim that this  new system can detect stealth aircraft, implying that the hypothetical enemy is the United States.

 

Russia also claims the S-400 can knock down short range ballistic missiles (those with a reentry speed of up to 5,000 meters a second, in the same way the similar U.S. Patriot system does.) S-400 has a longer range (at 400 kilometers) than Patriot (70 kilometers). Export efforts are hobbled by a  lack of combat experience for the system. Patriot has knocked down aircraft and ballistic missiles, S-400 has not. Moreover, Russia anti-aircraft missile systems have a spotty history (especially when confronted by Western electronic countermeasures.) But Russia is already touting a new, S500 system, that can knock down longer range ballistic missiles (with higher reentry speeds) and stealth aircraft. The missiles around Moscow are part of a project to rebuild the Soviet era air defense system, which has fallen apart since the early 1990s. The new system will be completed in about eight years. The S-500 will be available before that.

 

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Knjaz       2/28/2008 7:51:46 AM
No way it will be completed in 8 years. And it'll have more difference with S-400, then just to be able to "knock down longer range ballistic missiles (with higher reentry speeds) and stealth aircraft". This will be approached by upgrading current versions of S-400.
 
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Knjaz       2/28/2008 9:14:44 AM
No way it will be completed in 8 years. And it'll have more difference with S-400, then just to be able to "knock down longer range ballistic missiles (with higher reentry speeds) and stealth aircraft". This will be approached by upgrading current versions of S-400.
 
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Lance Blade       2/28/2008 11:34:32 AM
I'm not so sure. Development on the S-400 begun in the late 1990s (though of course, work had been carried out in that direction before that), and was officially completed in 2004. The S-500 development work is complete - it exists in its entirety on paper. All they have to do... is build it. If they managed to build the S-400 in about 10 years including development work, and with intermittent funding (during the 1990s), I can't see why they can't build the S-500 from ready-made blueprints providing the cash keeps flowing. Considering the current state of the Russian economy, I believe it's doable... if the air force considers it a high enough priority.

The Russian air force currently lacks a 5th generation fighter. In theory, they can achieve defensive parity with the USAF (and anyone else in the world) with the S-500. Therefore, they are likely to make it a priority. The only problem I can see is that the chief designer Alexander Lemansky died recently of heart failure. There may be problems and delays during the initial testing stages.

On the article itself, Russia is also cooperating with South Korea in development of a version specific to South Korean requirements. So it looks like S-400 is to be used for export, while S-500 will be used for self-defence. If they pull it off, they can make lots of money selling the new SAM. Russia has historically had superior SAMs to the US (while the US led the way in fighter design). If this system proves capable, it could change the global geopolitical picture for the next 10 years or so.
 
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Herald12345    LB you are wrong.   2/28/2008 11:42:39 AM
I suggest you review the success rate of HAWK against aircraft against the SA-2 Guideline's performance [contemporaries] for example.

You will be severely shocked.

Herald

 
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Lance Blade    also..   2/28/2008 11:52:04 AM
"Patriot has knocked down aircraft and ballistic missiles"

The only aircraft Patriot has downed were a British Tornado and an American F/A-18 in Operation Iraqi Freedom. I wouldn't count friendly fire as a mesaure of the effectiveness of a system. By the same logic, S-400 has probably knocked down dozens of test drones.

"Russia anti-aircraft missile systems have a spotty history (especially when confronted by Western electronic countermeasures.)"

This doesn't apply to the S-200/300/400 family as far as I'm aware. Different teams, different people. If I'm wrong, please correct me.
 
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FJV       2/28/2008 12:24:40 PM
US move missile shield and radars towards the East, Russia moves S400 towards the West, everybody get's that old cold war nostalgia back again.




 
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Lance Blade    also..   2/28/2008 12:34:12 PM

I suggest you review the success rate of HAWK against aircraft against the SA-2 Guideline's performance [contemporaries] for example.

You will be severely shocked.

Herald


What is HAWK, Herald?

Also, I'll amend my statement. IN GENERAL, historically speaking, Russian SAMs have been superior to American ones. I believe it's to do with the fact that America has had air superiority since world war 2 (there's an interesting article on the topic on this site, called No Risk, No Rush, No Respect), so didn't feel such a pressing need to build reliable air defence compared to USSR. Different approaches to the same problem - an offensive one and a defensive one - resulted in money and specialists being applied to different systems, with different results.

It also comes back to another Russian approach, where defensive capability was historically provided by a handful of "trump card" systems built by a handful of individuals. In World War II it was T-34 MBTs, Katyshas and Il-2 Sturmoviks that ensured victory against the superior German army. Today it's the Topol-M ICBM, Bulava SLBM, S-400 SAM that insure the underfunded and tired Russian military remains deadly. Without these asset systems, Russia would have probably been overrun by China long ago.
 
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JFKY    Lance,   2/28/2008 12:53:38 PM
HAWK was the medium to low altitude 40-50 kilometre range SAM used by NATO from the late 1950's until the 1990's.  Radar-guided, triple launcher.  Had two or three radars attached, Surveillance, Range-Only, and the Illuminator.  Decent system for it's era.
 
IF, the progenitor of this web site is to be believed, Dunnigan, then yes Western SAM's are about twice as effective as Soviet SAM's.  It took about 20 SAM's per kill for Soviet systems and about 10 SAM's per kill for Western systems, IIRC, from How to Make War.  HAWK destroyed a number of Syrian MIG's in 1970's and 1980's.
 
Bottom-line: though they have generally been less important in the great scheme of things since 1943, Western Air Defense Systems have been much more effective, pound-for-pound than Soviet systems, even if Soviet systems have downed more air craft, because those that use them don't have an Air Force.  I would argue that the best air defense system, in toto, would be a Western Air Force combined with Western SAM's....not a Western Air Force combined with ANY of the SA-series.
 
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Lance Blade       2/28/2008 1:31:57 PM

HAWK was the medium to low altitude 40-50 kilometre range SAM used by NATO from the late 1950's until the 1990's.  Radar-guided, triple launcher.  Had two or three radars attached, Surveillance, Range-Only, and the Illuminator.  Decent system for it's era.

 

IF, the progenitor of this web site is to be believed, Dunnigan, then yes Western SAM's are about twice as effective as Soviet SAM's.  It took about 20 SAM's per kill for Soviet systems and about 10 SAM's per kill for Western systems, IIRC, from How to Make War.  HAWK destroyed a number of Syrian MIG's in 1970's and 1980's.

 

Bottom-line: though they have generally been less important in the great scheme of things since 1943, Western Air Defense Systems have been much more effective, pound-for-pound than Soviet systems, even if Soviet systems have downed more air craft, because those that use them don't have an Air Force.  I would argue that the best air defense system, in toto, would be a Western Air Force combined with Western SAM's....not a Western Air Force combined with ANY of the SA-series.

SA is not a series, it's a generic NATO designation for a surface-to-air missile. AFAIK, the S-200+ family was developed by a different design team to those that built, say, SA-7 (that's apart from them being completely different SAMs). The S-200+ family is considered by NATO experts to be a very capable system. The S-300, for example, is technically superior to the Patriot, and as neither has been fired at an enemy aircraft, until better actual data is avalible, it's all guesswork which one is actually better. Suffice to say more countries use S-300 than Patriot. Countries like India, Greece and South Korea (S-400), who have the money to choose either. United States military also bought an S-300 system for evaluation, testing and possible reverse engineering, meaning that they recognise it as a dengerous enough threat and competitor.

Your main arguement, of 10 missiles/kill for US systems vs. 20 missiles/kill for Russian ones, also ignores the fact that Russian systems are cheaper, so you can buy more of them. It doesn't really matter how many missiles you fire at a target, as long as you kill the target. Your efficiency may be higher with US systems, yes, but effectiveness is about the SAM achieveing its purpose. And, while we're on the subject, we all know that efficiency never ranked high during the Soviet era, when most of these systems were developed. Again, it's a matter of military doctrine.

I'm not denying that US has produced decent SAMs, it's just that not nearly enough money has been put into SAM development as opposed to, say, fighter development, for obvious reasons.

My only other arguement for the relative effectiveness of Russian systems is the Yom Kippur War. Relative, of course, to contemporary Israeli fighters :-) as no air strike was attempted during the course of the conflict, those particular SAM batteries proved their worth, even though the war was lost by Egypt and Syria.
 
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Lance Blade    stealth/reduced RCS   2/28/2008 1:37:22 PM
"The Russians claim that this  new system can detect stealth aircraft"

Could the F-117A downing incident in Serbia, 1999, have anything to do with this claim? After all, we know that Russian experts came to the site within days to analyze remains of the aircraft.
 
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