The People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) has conducted its second live fire test of its first regimental set of Russian-made S-400 Triumf long-range interceptor-based air defense systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) and completed user trials in late December 2018, according to Russian media reports.
“The second test firing of the S-400 was carried out in December last year at a Chinese firing ground,” a Russian defense industry source was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on January 10. “The 48N6E missile fired by the system’s launcher hit an aerodynamic target [simulating an aircraft] flying at a speed of more than 600 meters per second.”
The target was reportedly intercepted at a distance of 250 kilometers (155 miles) suggesting that the PLARF has been supplied with upgraded variants of the 48N6E and 48N6E2, designated 48N6DM or 48N6E3. The 48N6 missile series is intended to engage intermediate-range ballistic missiles in their terminal phase. 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 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).
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 … can purportedly also fire the 9M96E and 9M96E2.
The first test firing of a S-400 air defense system in China took place at an undisclosed location in November. According to the Russian defense industry source, the second successful test also marked the end of user trials of the new weapon system: “The S-400 trial program in China has been completed; no other test firings are being planned at the moment.”
PLARF is in the process of standing up two S-400 regiments for an estimated $3 billion. The delivery of the second regimental set was expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The second regiment is also expected to be equipped with an export variant of the S-400’s most advanced interceptor, the 40N6E, capable of intercepting targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers.