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Russia Sends New Missiles for S-400 Air Defense System to China

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Russia Sends New Missiles for S-400 Air Defense System to China

The new missiles are a replacement for those damaged on a Russian ship that got into a storm in the English Channel in 2017.

Russia Sends New Missiles for S-400 Air Defense System to China
Credit: Russian Ministry of Defense

Russia has reportedly send dozens of new missiles for S-400 Triumf long-range interceptor-based air defense system (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) to China as a replacement for missiles damaged aboard a Russian cargo ship that got caught in a storm in the English Channel in December 2017.

“At the start of April, several dozens of new S-400 missiles were sent by maritime transport from the Baltic to China to replace those damaged in a storm in the English Channel,” a military-diplomatic source told TASS news agency on April 30. The press office of Russia’s state arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, declined to comment on the matter.

According to Russian sources, the cargo ship that was forced to return to a Russian port as a result of the damages sustained during the storm carried an export variant of the S-400’s most advanced interceptor, the 40N6E, reportedly capable of intercepting targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers. However, while the 40N6E missile was reportedly cleared for serial production last in the summer of 2018, it is unclear whether production of the missile has begun.

Russia first released details of the 40N6E during  the 2018 Army Forum in August. Designed and developed by Russian missile maker MKB Fakel, the 40N6E will be serial-produced by the Moscow-based MMZ Avangard. The 40N6E’s maximum engagement range is thought to be around 380 kilometers, while the missile’s maximum altitude for target interception is about 30 kilometers.

As I reported previously, the first two Russian cargo ships carrying S-400 equipment, including launchers and mobile radar systems, arrived in China in April 2018. Delivery of the first S-400 regimental set was reportedly completed the following month. The second batch of S-400 air defense systems is expected to arrive in China during the summer months of 2019.

The People’s Liberation Army’s Rocket Force (PLARF) plans to stand up two S-400 regiments with total acquisition costs estimated at around $3 billion. As I noted before:

The standard S-400 battery consists of four transporter erector launchers (TELs) with four large launch tubes or 16 smaller tubes (or a combination of the two) per TEL, in addition to long-range surveillance radar target acquisition and engagement (fire control) radar systems and a command post (vehicle). In the Russian military, two batteries make up an S-400 battalion (also known as an S-400 division), whereas an S-400 regiment consists of two battalions.

Each TEL can carry four long-range or up to 16 short- and medium-range missiles. An S-400 regiment also possesses additional surveillance and target acquisition radars, with the unit generally plugged in to larger long-range radar stations or airborne early warning systems.

Russia has been training PLARF personnel on the S-400 air defense system in 2018 and throughout 2019. China became the first international customer to place an order for the S-400 back in 2014.