Russia's Anti-Air S-400 System Can Kill Almost Anything in the Sky
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Key point: This missile system is feared by pilots around the world. Everyone knows that this weapon is not a joke.
The S-400 is currently one of the most controversial rockets in the world. The United States has imposed economic sanctions on countries just because they bought the system, but many of the world's powers are interested. India signed contracts in September 2018 and China signed in April 2018. But what exactly makes the S-400 so hot? Ticket items in the world today? How did it develop over the previous S-300?
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The S-300 began its development in the 1960s as the successor to a number of previous surface-to-air missile systems (SAM). The primary missile to be replaced is the S-75 (SA-2) missile system, which is known to have been used against the U-2 spy plane and has been used in Cuba and Vietnam. The rocket was tested in the 1970s and put into service in 1978.
The main improvement of the S-300 compared to previous systems would be the ability to be multi-channel - using multiple beacons to guide missiles to different targets at the same time. The previous S-25 system was also multi-channel, but it was extremely heavy and was only used in stationary mounts. The American SAM-D (which was to become the MIM-104 Patriot) was the first American land-based SAM with multi-channel technology. it was put into service three years later in 1981.
The main customer for the new missile was the Soviet PVO or air defense forces. They adopted the first version of the S-300, the S-300PT. All "P" missiles should be for the PVO. The S-300PT included a towable TEL (Transporter, Erector, Launcher) and a towable radar that relied on heavy trucks to reposition it. The set also included a fire control system. This was good enough for relatively stationary PVO tasks, but not an ideal solution.
The Soviet military examined SAM usage in Vietnam and the Middle East and found that faster repositioning was key to maximizing the effectiveness of SAMs. Setup and commissioning of the S-300PT took more than an hour since the launchers and radar were towed. This was seen as an area in need of improvement. The original S-300PT used the 5V55 with a range of around 75 kilometers.
As a result, the S-300 came into the form it is now known for: mounted on the heavy truck MAZ-7910 (although variants were also mounted on articulated platforms on newer trucks). The TEL, radar and fire control system were all mounted on these trucks. Additional aids, for example to correct differences between radar and beam heights, were installed on lighter trucks. The complete system, now known as the S-300PS, was put into operation in 1982. The slightly modified version for export is known as S-300PMU. The PS used the longer 5V55R rocket with a range of around 90 kilometers.
While the S-300P was under development in both forms, the S-300F for the Navy and the S-300V for the Army were also under development. The S-300V was specifically designed to combat tactical ballistic missiles like Lance and Pershing in addition to air threats.
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An essential feature of the S-300V system is that it has two TEL variants, a TEL with four 9M83 missiles with a shorter range (75 kilometers) and a TEL with two 9M82 missiles with a longer range (100 kilometers). The TEL, radar and command post kits for the S-300V are mounted on a chain undercarriage (like the artillery gun 2S7) to ensure better mobility in the field, unlike the S-300PS. The S-300V was put into service in 1985.
The further development was carried out with both the V and P variants of the S-300. The S-300PM missile series was born out of the desire to integrate the functionality of the V for intercepting ballistic missiles into the P missile series. Export versions of the S-300PM are referred to as the S-300PMU, and one can follow the recent development of the S-300 in the listed functions of these missiles that lead to the S-400.
Indeed, early versions of the S-400 were referred to as the S-300PMU-3, indicating a third modernization of the street-going version of the S-300 for air defense. When the system was first presented at MAKS 2007, it was found that most of the vehicles were externally similar to the S-300PMU-2 system.
Advances in missile and radar technology, however, are likely to make ~ 2-fold progress "over previous missile systems" in the S-400. The S-400's new radars are likely to make it very powerful compared to almost any aerial target.
Another important aspect of the S-400 is the ability to use four different types of missiles with different weights and capabilities, so that the system itself can form a large part of a layered air defense. This makes the S-400 a more flexible system. Rockets used in earlier S-300 variants can also be used.
The new missiles for the S-400 are expected to extend the range even further to 240 kilometers compared to aerial targets, a gradual upgrade from the S-300PMU-1 to 150 kilometers and the S-300PMU-2 go to 200 kilometers. Newer missiles like the 40N6 can even increase the range of the S-400 to 400 kilometers.
What does that mean for the S-400? At its core, it is still a relatively street-mobile system for air defense forces. While it represents a significant leap in capabilities (especially when compared to the use of S-300PT / PS systems of the first generation) and is much more flexible than previous versions of the S-300, the development of the S-300 was a more flexible, more powerful system already on the go with the various sub-variants of the S-300PMU.
In contrast, the Russian army has further developed the S-300V into the S-300V4 and S-300VM (Antey 2500 for export), which incorporate more modern rocket and radar technology to increase the range (200 kilometers) of the later S- 300PMUs. A new TEL is also added, incorporating a small rocket steering radar, which may reduce the number of vehicles on the field.
While the capabilities of the S-400 seem to be a significant leap, they got there through the slow development of previous S-300 missiles. Many of the advanced features such as ballistic missile interception, interchangeable modular missiles and multi-channel interventions have long been in the system, and the S-400 only builds on the existing strengths of the S-300 to make it one even more deadly threat.
Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and frequently comments on defense and national security issues.
This appeared for the first time in 2018 and will be published again due to the interest of the readers.
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