posted on Feb, 10 2005 @ 04:46 AM
some details of the system :
S-400 (SA-20 Triumf)
Alternate Name: SA-20 Triumf
Status: Operational, Exported
The S-400, also known by its NATO designation, SA-20 Triumf, is an advanced Russian surface-to-air missile system. Once operational, it will be able
to destroy aircraft, cruise missiles, and short- and medium-range ballistic missiles at ranges of up to 400 kilometers. The Russians eventually plan
to phase out their existing S-200 (NATO: SA-5 Gammon) and S-300P (NATO: SA-10 Grumble) systems and replace them with S-400 complexes.
By the late 1990s, it was widely acknowledged that Russia had fallen behind the U.S. in missile defense. Not wanting to let its technology and
expertise go to waste, Moscow decided to build a new air-defense missile system, one that would surpass even the U.S. Patriot. According to Vladimir
Simonov, General Director of the Russian Agency for Control Systems, the main focus was on getting Russia’s lagging programs “back on their feet.
"From the beginning, the project was shrouded in secrecy: neither its purpose, nor its parameters, nor even its name were disclosed to the public,
although speculation was rampant.
In January 1999, the Russian Air Force formally announced that it had developed a new air defense system known as the S-400. Designed by the Russian
Almaz Central Design Bureau, the S-400 was a thoroughly modernized version of the older S-300P system, versions of which dated back to the late
1960s.The S-400 was reportedly capable of destroying a wide range of targets, including tactical and strategic aircraft, radar observation and
targeting planes, cruise missiles, and short- and medium-range ballistic missiles.According to Aleksandr Lemanskiy, Director-General of Almaz, the new
system had “no parallels.”
Most of the excitement surrounding the S-400 announcement centered on its new long-range missile, which the Fakel Machine Building Design Bureau was
still in the final stages of developing. According to the Russians, the new missile featured an advanced seeker head capable of tracking targets well
beyond the horizon line. It had a range of up to 400 kilometers, giving it approximately 2.5 times the range of the S-300P and twice the range of the
U.S. Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system, thus making it the superior missile. Once operational, the Russians claimed, the new S-400 missile
would be able to home in on short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, as well as reconnaissance aircraft, stealth bombers, and other high-flying,
In addition to the new long-range missile, the Russians revealed that the S-400 would be armed with lightweight 9M96 missiles to counter low-flying
targets. Each 9M96 interceptor would have a range of approximately 120 kilometers and feature a gas-dynamic control system that would allow it to
perform intricate low-altitude maneuvers. The Russians claimed that, in order to hasten the S-400’s deployment, the 9M96 interceptors would be made
compatible with the existing S-300P launchers. Thus, a standard S-300P launcher originally designed to carry four 5V55 or 48N6 missiles would now be
used to transport up to 16 9M96 missiles. In addition, the S-400 would use the S-300P control complex and multifunctional radar, thus allowing for a
smooth, cost-efficient transition between the two systems.
In February 1999, initial tests of the S-400 began at the Kapustin Yar site in Astrakhan. Reports indicate that these tests were largely successful.
In early 2001, Moscow announced that the S-400 would be deployed that year by the Russian military, and would also be made available for export on the
world arms market. Shortly thereafter, however, the S-400 program began to encounter a series of financial difficulties and technical problems that
caused it to fall behind schedule, a trend that continued over the next two years.
In mid-2003, after numerous delays and considerable bureaucratic infighting, it began to look as if the S-400 was nearing completion. That August,
however, two high-ranking Russian military officials, Colonel General Alexei Moskovsky, Chief of the Armament Department of the Armed Forces, and
General Anatoly Kvashnin, Chief of the General Staff, expressed their concerns that the S-400 was being tested using “obsolete” interceptors from
the S-300P (such as the 48N6 missile). They concluded that the system was still not yet ready for production.Moscow once again decided to delay the
S-400’s scheduled deployment, this time until 2005 or 2006.
In February 2004, the Russian Air Force announced that state tests of the S-400 had been completed and that the system was finally ready for
production.Two months later, Interfax-Military News Agency reported that an upgraded 48N6DM long-range interceptor had successfully destroyed a test
ballistic missile. An Almaz-Antey official stated that “the system launched the upgraded 48N6DM long-range missile. The missile was guided to the
target with precision, while the tasks set have been fulfilled.”Despite these recent successes, it remains unclear when the S-400 will begin mass
Nevertheless, Moscow has been aggressively marketing the S-400 throughout Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. Many believe that China will be
Russia’s main customer. Between 2003 and 2004, China spent approximately $500 million on future S-400 systems, which accounts for the 7 percent
increase in China’s foreign weapons acquisitions during that period.In addition to China, Russia has offered the S-400 to the United Arab Emirates,
once in 2002 and again in 2004. There is also speculation that Iran, a potential nuclear power, is currently seeking to acquire its own batch of S-400
It is evident that, once the S-400 completes its final tests and enters production, it will quickly become one of the most sought after missile
defense systems in the world.