What is S-400 Missile Defense System?

What is S-400 Missile Defense System? S-400 Missile Defense System is currently in news as India wants faster delivery from Russia. let’s know all about S-400 Missile Defense System.

What is S-400 Missile Defense System?

S-400 Missile Defense System is an upgraded version of S-300 Missile Defense System developed by Almaz Central Design Bureau of Russia in 1990s. S-400 Missile Defense System is basically a mobile anti-aircraft weapon system which is also known as Triumph. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) named it as SA-21 Growler. Dr Alexander Lemanskiy was the Chief Engineer of Almaz-Antey on the S-400 project.

Features of S-400 Missile Defense System

  • It can neutralize threats at low and very low flight altitudes. It has the horizontal operation range of 400km at an altitude of up to 30km.
  • The S-400 Missile Defense System is suitable for all types of aerial threats including aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), and ballistic and cruise missiles.
  • It can simultaneously engage 36 targets.
  • It can defeat advanced jammers employed by the enemies.
  • It has multirole capabilities and integration with legacy IADS (Integrated Air Defense System) technologies.
  • It has wide range of mobility and deployability.
  • It is Suitable for Naval integration.
  • It can be used against fixed as well as manoeuvre forces.
  • It can be used against PGWs (Precision Guided Weapons).
  • The S-400 Missile Defense System is capable of firing three types of missiles to create a three-layered defense system.

Components of S-400 Missile Defense System

Command and control system or 55K6E

  • Controlls all other units to process the air space surveillance data of all individual batteries and coordinates other batteries.
  • Tracks airborne threats.
  • Prioritises the aerial threats.

S-400 radars

  • 92N6E is the big bird acquisition and battle management radar system of S-400.
  • 92N6E can detect and track aircraft, cruise missiles, drones, guided missiles and ballistic missiles within range of 600km.
  • It can simultaneously track up to 300 targets.

Air Missiles of S-400

Fakel 48N6E3 and 40N6 are the two types of Surface to Air Missiles used in S-400

Missile Launcher Units

  • S-400 has the missile launch unit or TEL or Transporter Erector Launcher which contains four missile containers and each container could house one 48N6E or four 9M96 surface-to-air missiles.

Inherent difficulties of Advanced Missile Defense System

We have recently witnessed the drone attacks on the Saudi oil facilities and the ballistic missile attack on an American airfield located in Iraq to assassinate Qasem Soleimani. These are the examples where Advanced Missile Defense System were defeated.These are few cases from which it can be observed that the Advanced Missile Defense System is difficult to operate effectively.

Effectiveness of S-400

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) defined the S-400 as one of the most the most advanced air defense systems currently available in the world. Besides UK based the eminent international weekly ‘The Economist’ also graded this air-defense systems as the best right now.

However it is also to be noted that S-400 is effective against the array of missile threat only if S-400 regiments are integrated with airborne warning and control aircraft systems or AWACS aircraft. This integration passes through massive network complexity, susceptible to error and extremely expensive. Very skilled military workforce is highly needed to operate S-400 at it’s maximum capacity. India need to realize these basic formula before s-400 is made operational.

S-400 and India’s Perspective

Ministry of Defense, India signed a deal of $5.5 billion to buy four regiments of S-400 surface-to-air missiles (SAM). India has already made an advance payment of $850 million for the deployment from Russia of the first regiment by September 2021.

It is recently in news as the report says that the defense minister of India, Rajnath Singh is in Russia to attend the Russia-India-China (RIC) meeting, will be pushing the Russian government for faster delivery of S-400 amidst India-China border tension in June 2020. According to the primary agreement the first shipment of delivery was scheduled by the end of 2021. India will be receiving three S-400 batteries on the border with Pakistan and two with China by the end of 2021. Thereafter Russia will be sending one S-400 battery every year, with all five expected to reach India by 2024.

Why India wants faster delivery of S-400

  • S-400 air defense system is capable to detect and track the stealth fighter jets like F-22 and F-35 which are the integral parts of China’s Arsenal.
  • It will give a boost in India defense with a view to the current hostile situation India is living. There are multiple threats looming from the sides of Pakistan, China and even from Nepal.
  • It will help India to form an interlocking grid of missiles to cover all its bases along Pakistan borders.

Which Countries are using S-400 Missile Defense System

Russia,Belarus,China,Turkey,Soudi Arabia are the countries which are proactively using either S-400 or older versions of S-400 Missile Defense System.


Competitor of S-400 Missile Defense System


  • MIM-104 Patriot is a Missile Defense System developed by the USA
  • Arrow 3 Missile Defense System  is the world’s first operational and stand-alone Anti Tactical Ballistic Missiles (ATBM) defense system which is developed by Isarel.


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