TRIUMPH FROM MOSCOW TO RUSSIAN FAR EAST
Author: Alexander Lukashov
Alexander Lukashov, Military Parade editor
Readers of the Military Parade magazine have been familiar with the S-400 Triumph surface-to-air missile (SAM) system since last century. Military Parade wrote about factory tests of the S-400 SAM system at the Kapustin Yar range field as far back as February 1999. Much time has passed since then. The Triumph SAM system was fielded under a governmental decree in April 2007, the first mass-produced system was manufactured and put on combat duty outside a town of Elektrostal, Moscow Region, on August 6, 2007.
In February 2011 the Kapustin Yar range field hosted launches of another regiment of S-400 Triumph SAM systems. The main feature of the exercise consisted in the fact that the Almaz-Antey Design Bureau, manufacturer of the S-400 system, had delivered two whole battalions, rather than separate SAM systems to its customer, the Operational-Strategic Aerospace Defence Command. It is crucial for practicing regiment-size teamwork, since successful engagement of a target is the result of joint efforts of the entire combat crew.
A SAM regiment, equipped with new S-400 SAM systems, will be put on combat duty in Dmitrov this March, thus, reinforcing Moscow's air defence. It will be the second regiment, armed with S-400s, to be deployed outside Moscow. Commander of the Operational-Strategic Aerospace Defence Command Lieutenant General Valery Ivanov pointed out: "It takes at least three to four regiments, equipped with S-400 SAM systems, to ensure effective air defence of Moscow. Such a capability will be available in 2016-2020."
It is worth mentioning that the S-400 Triumph SAM system, developed and produced by the Almaz-Antey Air Defence Consortium, is designed for highly efficient defence of crucial political, administrative, economic, and military installations against air attacks, as well as strategic, cruise, theatre ballistic, and medium-range ballistic missile strikes in adverse combat and electronic countermea-sures (ECM) environments.
The system is based on cutting-edge scientific achievements, advanced components, and state-of-the-art technologies. All combat functions, including target detection, tracking, distribution among SAM systems, lock-on, tracking, identification; missile type selection; launch preparations; missile launch, lock-on, and guidance; and damage assessment, are automated. The system is capable of simultaneously tracking up to 300 targets, guiding up to 72 missiles, and engaging up to 36 targets.
The S-400 can destroy aerodynamic targets at a range of up to 400 km, and at a height of up to 60 km it is capable of killing cruise missiles, tactical and strategic aircraft (including stealth ones), and ballistic missiles flying at a speed of up to 4.8 km/sec. The minimum/maximum flight altitude of an engaged aerodynamic target equals 0.01/27 km. Such targets can be detected at a range of up to 600 km.
As compared with previous-generation SAM systems, the Triumph boasts significantly greater combat capabilities and is more than twice as effective. It is the only system, capable of launching more than four types of missiles, featuring different launch weights and ranges, therefore, establishing layered air defence.
All S-400 assets are based on wheeled cross-country chassis and can be transported by railway, sea, and air.
According to many experts, the S-400 is the world's best SAM system. The Triumph is superior to the top-notch Western US-made Patriot missile system in many ways. For instance, the Russian system can engage low-level targets at an altitude of 10 m plus, while the US one - at an altitude of 60 m and higher. On the modern battlefield, stakes in breaching air defences are placed on low-level attacks.
Vertically launched missiles enable the S-400 to engage incoming targets, approaching from any direction, without having to turn its launchers. The Patriot missile system, which, on the other hand, launches its missile at a pre-set angle, is forced to either turn its launchers or deploy them on missile-dangerous approaches in advance, which inevitably affects its firepower potential.
The deployment time from the travelling position into the combat one is also a crucial factor. While it takes the Russian system less than five minutes to deploy, the US SAM system needs about half an hour.
The deployment geography of the cutting-edge system expands - the Aerospace Defence Command intends to field Triumph SAM systems with a SAM regiment, based in the Russian Far East (it will be the third regiment equipped with S-400s). The top-notch SAM system will replace obsolete pieces of materiel. S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, deployed in the Russian Far East, will facilitate a more efficient defence of Pacific Fleet installations, including nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) bases. This decision is not related to the plans to build up forces in the Kuril Islands or the threat, posed by the North Korean nuclear programme. Deployment of S-400s systems in the Russian Far East is just one of the steps, aimed at boosting capabilities of the regional air and missile defence.
S-400 SAM systems are expected to become the basis for a system, capable of ensuring the required level of securing in the course of the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.
Russian arms designers continue making headway. Development of the advanced S-500 SAM system, announced in 2009, is under way. At the present time it is only known that the new-generation system will be smaller and more manoeuvrable than the Triumph, and will be fitted with a state-of-the-art X-band phased array radar. Among other things, the new system is expected to perform space defence missions at an altitude of 40 to 50 km. Its development is planned to be completed in 2013, while in 2014 mass-produced S-500 systems are expected to start entering the inventory. Given the trend to deploy weapon systems in space, it will be of paramount importance to Russia's defence capacity.
Re-equipment of the Russian Armed Forces with S-400 SAM systems and development of the S-500 system are the response to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's order that a new combat arm, the Aerospace Defence Forces, be established. In this light air and missile defence systems are to be integrated and put under a single Strategic Command by 1 December, 2011. A combination of the S-400 and the S-500 is a serious factor in building a joint European missile defence system.