Russia has begun delivery of an unknown number of S-400 Triumf advanced interceptor-based Air Defense Systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) to China under a 2014 government-to-government contract, an unnamed source in the Russian military-industrial complex told TASS news agency on January 18.
“The implementation of the contract has begun, the first shipment has been sent to China,” the source said. Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation confirmed the beginning of the shipments in January noting that part of the S-400 equipment had been damaged during transport and returned to Russia.
China and Russia concluded a deal for the procurement of four to six S-400 units in November 2014, making Beijing the S-400s first international customer. The contract value is estimated at around $3 billion. The contract specifically precludes technology transfers and licensed production of Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defense system.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
Neither the exact number of units nor the types of missiles slated to be delivered to China have been revealed by Russia. The S-400 units delivered are likely regiment sized formations. One S-400 regiment is usually divided into two smaller battalions with each battalion fielding up to eight launchers and 32-112 missiles, next to support equipment including acquisition and engagement radar systems and a command post.
As I explained previously:
In comparison to its predecessor, the S-300, the S-400 air defense system features an improved radar system and updated software; it can purportedly can fire four new types of surface-to-air (SAM) missiles in addition to the S-300’s 48N6E, a vertical tube launched, solid fuel, single stage SAM with an estimated range of 150 kilometers (93 miles), and the improved 48N6E2 missile with a reported range of 195 kilometers (121 miles).
One of the S-400’s new missiles is the so-called 40N6 SAM with an estimated operational range of 400 kilometers (248.5 miles) and an altitude of up to 185 kilometers (607,000 feet). The missile is reportedly capable of exo-atmospheric interception of intermediate-range ballistic missile warheads in their terminal phase. However, it is unclear whether the weapon is operational in Russia yet and no images of the 40N6 SAM have surfaced so far.
The S-400 is also armed with an improved variant of the 48N6E2 with an alleged range of 250 kilometers (160 miles). The air defense system can also fire two additional missiles, the 9M96E and 9M96E2 with respective ranges of 40 km (25 miles) and 120 km (75 miles). Improved S-300 air defense systems such as the S-300PMU-2 Favorite (sold to Iran), can purportedly also fire the 9M96E and 9M96E2.
China and Russia concluded an anti-ballistic missile defense computer-simulated command post exercise in December 2017, claiming “new breakthroughs in anti-missile cooperation.”