Following the reference to vulnerabilities, we look at the most important issue of the operational exploitation of the S-400 Triumf missile system. This is the actual radius of at which targets are spotted and locked by the system. Let’s look at some data …
On an Indian site (the print) we read that the Russian system (India has also ordered it through a $ 5.2 billion contract) can track flying targets at a distance of 600 kilometers.
We also read that it can strike targets such as aircraft, missiles and small-scale unmanned airplanes at distances of up to 400 kilometers, while at the same time being able to attack ballistic missiles and hypersonic weapons.
Compared with the earlier S-300, its firing rate is 2.5 times faster. Each S-400 system consists of a long-range target radar, a target acquisition radar, a control vehicle, and two launch batteries.
Each battery has eight quadruple launchers with missiles that can hit targets at distances of 400, 250, 120 and 40 km. According to the same source, the system can simultaneously engage up to 12 targets. Finally, the S-400 is completely mobile, as all its units are installed on heavy-duty Ural vehicles.
We have no reason to question these capabilities. We take them as given since the Russians have many decades of experience in developing and producing advanced and reliable anti-aircraft missile systems. What we need to keep in mind, however, is that the laws of physics apply here as well, as for all systems of the kind.
The radius of the system does not exceed 40-50 km for low flying targets because of the curvature of the earth. When the terrain is mountainous, things get even more complicated, as there are now many “blind” areas for the system.
US reports from operations in Syria claim that the Russian S-400 did not detect missiles (Tomahawk missiles) that were passing at relatively low heights over valleys between mountains, just 50 kilometers from the radar of the system!
They also argue, and it seems quite reasonable, that this was why Russians based two AEW & C aircraft in Syria, while installing radar units at the top of the hills and mountains, interconnecting them with the S-400 control centers.
All of these have a reasonable basis because they are physical facts … These don’t change. You can not have radar coverage everywhere. In order to ensure a complete picture over a large area, you will have to combine many systems on land, sea and air.
As for the 400km or 250km target attack range, this can only be achieved by exploiting S-400 extra-atmpspheric rockets. The radius of 48N6E3 reaches 250 km and that of 40N6E to 400 km!
Again, we have no reason to question these figures. Western pundits insist that the development of these missiles has not yet been completed and that even when it is done, they will not be easily released by Russia for all S-400 users.
They also claim that Turkey has received the 120km radius 9M96E middiled. All this information needs to be confirmed. Whether in the future Turkey acquires the long-range, beyond atmosphere models of the S-400 is something that is of course of great importance to Greece and the countries of the region.
But there is nothing to hinder attempts at neutralizing targets within Turkey. Even in great depth. For all the reasons we presented.