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Air Defense: S-400 Gets Better
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December 31, 2008: Russia continues to develop and test new versions of its most powerful anti-aircraft missile, the S-400 (also known as the SA-20, Growler or Triumf). Particular attention is being paid to electronic countermeasures that the Americans might have, or be developing. Eighteen months ago, Russia put its first S-400a into service when a  S-400 battalion (eight launchers, each with four missiles, plus a control center and radar) officially became operational outside Moscow. A second battalion was deployed in the same area this year.

Belarus is also getting the S-400 from Russia. This system is similar to the U.S. Patriot, 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.

The S-400 missiles weigh 1.8 tons each and are 26 feet long and about 20 inches in diameter. The missiles have a range of some 400 kilometers, and can hit targets as high as 100,000 feet. The missile has a 320 pound warhead. The target acquisition radar has a range of 700 kilometers.

The S-400 has over five times the range of the U.S. Patriot, weighs twice as much and claims the ability to detect stealthy aircraft. The S-400 also has an anti-missile capability, which is limited to shorter range (3,500 kilometers) ballistic missiles. That would mean a warhead coming in at about 5,000 meters a second (the longer the range of a ballistic missile, the higher its re-entry speed.)

The S-400 system actually has two missiles, one of them being a smaller, shorter range (120 kilometers) one. The S-400 has no combat experience, but U.S. intelligence believes that the tests these systems have undergone indicate it is a capable air defense weapon. Just how capable won't be known until it actually gets used in combat.

Russia plans to buy up to 200 launchers (each with four missiles) by 2015, and phase out the older S-300 and S-200 systems. This would mean deploying at least 18 battalions in the next six years, and perhaps more than twenty. The S-400 is sometimes described as an improved version of the S-300. Basically, it is. This is how Russia prefers to develop weapons, making incremental improvements on a basic design, and doing so for decades if the system continues to be successful.

 

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colforbin       12/31/2008 4:22:29 PM
As good as the patriot and 5 times the range? C'mon strategypage, I know you can give me some reason why our stuff is laughably superior.
 
Can we just buy those to use as part of the missile sheild? Its gotta be cheaper.
 
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HERALD1357    Different rockets for differehnt threat sets.   12/31/2008 4:36:14 PM
The SM-6 is superior as an ABM.
 
The Patriot "system" compared to the S-400 "system" is a false comparison. A better match is the S-300 system which the Patriot system more closely resembles as to design parameters.and target sets.
 
Even at that you would have to use the Patriot and the PAC III in combo to reflect the combo rocket package the Russians use in their S-300 system.
 
In other words this article leaves a great deal technically to be desired.
 
Herald

 
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Slim Pickinz       12/31/2008 5:15:13 PM
Unless they make a ground-based version of the PAC III, that unfortunately is not possible. Is nobody else concerned about the lack of an American anti-aircraft system that is comparable to the S-400? I mean, 5 times the range of the Patriot and a detection range of 700km?? Even if stealth capabilities cut that range by 3/4, that's still well outside the range of HARM.  Is there a counterpart in the works?
 
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warpig       12/31/2008 6:01:32 PM

Unless they make a ground-based version of the PAC III, that unfortunately is not possible. Is nobody else concerned about the lack of an American anti-aircraft system that is comparable to the S-400? I mean, 5 times the range of the Patriot and a detection range of 700km?? Even if stealth capabilities cut that range by 3/4, that's still well outside the range of HARM.  Is there a counterpart in the works?

 

No, because we don't need a SAM system like that.  We have USAF/USN avaiation to take care of shooting down the bad guys, and plenty of Army air deferse crews just sitting around for the last 60 years waiting for something to do with anyone who can manage to leak through.  And no, the S-400 is not necessarily outside the range of HARM, depending on the scenario.  Since first of all I'd assume we're talking about an S-400 battalion exported to someplace like China (since the odds of needing to fly to Moscow are essentially nil) that's deployed to cover the Strait during an invasion, then we can probably still use terrain masking/low-level ingress to get close enough to launch weapons, like the new AGM-88E HARMs, JASSM, JSOW, and SDB, or else just stand back and use cruise missiles, and take out its C2, radars, and/or launchers, as appropriate.  The S-400 is an awesome system... but just like everything else, it isn't/***can't*** be effective in a vacuum. 

 
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JFKY    Slim   12/31/2008 6:10:06 PM
1) When you read these things divide by several factors of 2...I'm old enough to remember the "T-72" Scare..."Oh it's INVULNERABLE.  It's LETHAL BEYOND ALL MEASURE"  and then it was the T-80, "Ok, the T-72 wasn't that great, but the T-80 is INVULNERABLE and lethal beyond all measure" and then it was the T-90..."OK, the T-80 wasn't that scary, but the T-90 is INVULNERABLE and lethal beyond all measure....trust us."  Neither the US or Russia is opposed to this reportage.  For the US it represents the "reason" to develop new counter-measures, for the Russians it boosts their street cred and their foreign sales.  I'd take all of it with a large grain of salt...it's NEVER been shot at, or jammed or deployed in a combat environment.  The Patriot System has, and it's no great shakes, so why would the S-400 be any better?
2) 700 km range is probably against a transport flying high, not necessarily a B-2/F-22 flying at a low altitude...or for that matter a Tomahawk cruise missile coming in fairly low.
 
Bottom-Line: like Calvin says, "They lie, I lie"  Don't believe the Internet technical spec's of a weapon system and realize it's the crew and tactics of both sides that are the determinants of victory, not gee whiz supposed detection ranges.
 
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adw    The planets in the way!   12/31/2008 9:51:09 PM
At 700km the curvature of the Earth's gonna be a problem for a start.
Although, a large number of these, with a large number of su-35's with supporting AWACS in the air, radar and ir missiles fired simultaneously in vollies, plus the mach 6 anti ship missiles, and the submarines etc...
 
The US is still ahead, but this system with the others would make a damned mess out of a pretty serious amount of opposing hardware...which is whole point, right.
 
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earlm       1/1/2009 12:33:55 AM
The 400km range missile is designed to go against JSTARS and AWACS.  The range against maneuvering targets is less.  Anyone panicking over this system should ask why the USAF and USN aren't.  These systems can be made to take to lots of shots against decoys.  The missiles are far more expensive than the old command guided SAMs.  I doubt any country other than possibly China is going to build up the triple digit inventory that is needed to make these things work.
 
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Lawman       1/1/2009 12:35:35 PM
It is also worth bearing in mind the potential for making the current naval missiles available for land-based use. In particular, weapons like the SM-2MR/ER, SM-3 ABM and SM-6 ERAM - at the moment, these are only used for ship based defence, but could be modified for land-based use without many problems. The Standard missile family has the potential to match the Russian's systems, and likely exceed their capability.
As Herald rightly says, though, there has not really been too much need at the moment. I do disagree, however, with the idea that we will always be able to rely on having not just air superiority but air dominance. The SL-AMRAAM hopefully might change this, and the introduction of C-RAM has also improved things. With any luck, we will see more systems introduced, allowing a proper layered defence, rather than relying on just Avenger and Patriot!
 
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WarNerd       1/2/2009 5:57:08 AM

The 400km range missile is designed to go against JSTARS and AWACS.  The range against maneuvering targets is less.  Anyone panicking over this system should ask why the USAF and USN aren't.  These systems can be made to take to lots of shots against decoys.  The missiles are far more expensive than the old command guided SAMs.  I doubt any country other than possibly China is going to build up the triple digit inventory that is needed to make these things work.


Makes sense.  Countries can buy the basic short range missiles plus a couple of the big long range ones to take pot shots at "surveillance aircraft" that are peering into their airspace.  Could be a popular selling point for paranoid regimes.
 
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flyer19999    S-400 system   1/2/2009 6:15:18 AM

Russia needs to make constant improvements to its air defense network to match any developments by the west. Since the Russian landmass is nearly twice the size of some countries it needs mobile surface-to-air complexes to defend violators of its airspace. Many of todays countries think they can just fly over and bomb anyone they like and nothing can be done. Russia intends to rove tyhem wrong. Additionally, S-500 air defense system is in the works.

 
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