Forget the S-300, Here Comes the S-400
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Forget the S-300, Here Comes the S-400

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With controversy swirling last week surrounding a possible Russian sale of an advanced air-defense system, the S-300, to Syria, there are even more sophisticated air-defense platforms designed by Moscow that military planners around the world may soon have to anticipate dealing with.

The S-400, the next generation of air-defense systems, has the potential to create serious problems for fighter aces around the world.

"The 400 is an evolution of the 300.  It has many features specifically designed to overcome countermeasures and stealth, such as a larger, more powerful radar that is more resistant to jamming.  It also actually has a set of three missiles of varying range that provide overlapping layers of defense," Ivan Oelrich, an independent defense analyst and adjunct professor at the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University, told The Diplomat

"The S-400, or Triumph, consists of a radar and several missiles. The main radar tracks targets, calculates an intercept course, and sends guidance signals to the missiles, directing them toward the target.  When the missiles get close enough, they switch over to an independent, on-board guidance system for the final attack."

Oelrich explained the system is not combat tested nor has it been sold outside of Russia, so information on the system is limited.

While such an advanced air-defense platform could certainly create problems for strategic planners, even the most advanced technologies like the S-400 require proper training.

"Even very capable weapons, especially sophisticated and complex systems, are of limited use when in the hands of poorly trained users and the missile would have to be part of a comprehensive air-defense system," explains Orelich.

"It turns out that Syria has a fairly thick air defense system but, as recent Israeli attacks demonstrate, it can be penetrated.  If the weaknesses of the system are due to poor training, discipline, and doctrine, then adding a high performance system will not help much." 

So could we see the S-400 being sold to other militaries besides Russia?

"The Russian government says that [foreign] sales are sometime off while the manufacturer has suggested that foreign sales are possible. These things are very hard to predict but I would be extremely surprised if Russia sold the missiles to Syria while the current crisis continues; it would be seen as an extremely provocative escalation."

Comments
7
Morgan
May 15, 2013 at 01:50

Sounds like the russian defense industry needs some people more experienced with upselling.  I'd be willing to provide my services for a small fee of 2% per contract won.  :P  

(Seriously though, they really shouldn't have let those weapons out without training contracts)

Bankotsu
May 14, 2013 at 19:07

"i think one can comfortably say that today: the uni polar world politics is over."

It's not over. U.S. dollar is still the reserve currency. U.S still controls IMF and world bank, the U.S navy still dominates the world oceans. The U.S. alliance system in europe and asia is still intact. U.S. is still the hegemon in western hemisphere. Until these things are over, it will still be a unipolar world.

 

Moe
May 14, 2013 at 10:30

If the author is right, then why didn't Israeli pilots dare enter syria's airspace? 

Remember what happened to Turkish pilots when they broke its airspace last June.  I don't think it's easy to penetrate. This air defense system that Syria possesses is very new (only months old) and personnel from Russian army are currently training Syrians on its use. 

Why do u think the pentagon till now didn't help in creating no fly zone! Because if u want to idolize these defenses, rockets must be shot from the sea first. Check the latest Stratfor map. American navy is far away defending the Persian gulf. 

Whn Martin Dempsey was pressed by senate on probability of hitting Syria, he reminded congress that syria's air defense is 100 times more powerful than Libya.

 

i think one can comfortably say that today: the uni polar world politics is over.

babeouf
May 14, 2013 at 07:14

This is all misdirection. The Russian threat is clear if NATO bombs Syria   or introduces a no fly zone over Syria  or uses the Israeli air force as a proxy in Syria then Russia will supply(directly or through third parties)  the S 300 and other weapons systems to Iran. And since Western support for the 'Free Syrain Army' is aimed at weakening Iran's alliances direct Western military support would be counter productive. Most of the  domino's in the Middle East are Wesrtern dominos. The weakest position is the Wester one. They have the most to loose here. The most likely outcome to the stupid oppertunism  of Western  leaders is the strentghening of the Iranian regime. 

applesauce
May 14, 2013 at 05:16

they should have done that for a lot of their weapons long ago. many russian weapons are pretty decent, but its reputation has taken a beating because, under-trained middle eatern militaries tried to use them and failed miserably against trained aversaries.

Morgan
May 14, 2013 at 03:02

Interesting point with the "experience" thread they had going there: what if the Russians decided not to sell the S-400's in the future without long-term lucrative training contracts?  They could simply claim, "look, we're not going to put out our missiles systems to be defeated when your operators screw up.  it hurts our defense systems' credibility.  we either sell them as a package with training or not at all."

venkat s kanakamedala
May 14, 2013 at 02:54

RUSSIA SILENTLY DEVELOPING AIRDEFENSE MISSILE BATTERIES. SAM 400 MAY BE ADVANCED OF ITS PROTOTYPES. SYRIA N OTHER NATIONS MAY GET THESE.HOPE INDIA ALSO WILL ACQUIRE FOR ITS DEFENSE. CHINA N RUSSIA ARE WEAKENING THE UN,N NATO.RUSSIA MAY SUPPLY THESE TO NORTH KOREA N IRAN IN FUTURE.

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