S-400 Triumf / SA-21 Growler (2024)

The S-400 is a new generation system of medium and long-range air defense, capable of destroying all modern air weaponry, including tactical and strategic airplanes, ballistic missiles and hypersonic targets. The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) air defense system is expected to form the cornerstone of Russia's theater air and missile defenses by 2020. The S-400, manufactured by Almaz-Antey, is capable of targeting up to 36 airplanes at a range of 150 kilometers. The S-400 has the ability to not only shoot down airplanes, but also ballistic missiles.

The S-400 was developed in response to President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), also known as Star Wars. The S-400 program has evidently been under development since the 1980s, and has apparently undergone considerable evolution over time, resulting in considerable confusion in the public record on even the most basic facts associated with the program. The S-400 program has apparently severed the historically close walk-across between Russian and Western designation systems. Until recently, each Russian designator had a direct and unique Western counterpart, and vice versa [allowing for minor variants]. But the S-400 encompasses three entirely unrelated missiles, only two of which are genuinely new, and the most widely publicized of the new missiles may never see operational deployment.

The Triumf S-400, initially known as the S-300PMU3, is a new generation of air defense and theater anti-missile weapon developed by the Almaz Central Design Bureau as an evolution of the S-300PMU [SA-10] family. Major differences between the PMU-2 and the S-400 include a larger number of targets it can track and improved electronic counter-countermeasures. The Triumf system includes radars capable of detecting low-signature targets.

The Russian Air Force is studying a reduction in the number of types of air defense weapons, and it is possible that Triumf will become the only system being developed, providing defense both in the close-range and mid-range as well long-range zones. The system was developed through the cooperation of the Almaz Central Design Bureau, Fakel Machine Building Design Bureau, Novosibirsk Scientific Research Institute of Instruments, St. Petersburg Design Bureau of Special Machine Building and other enterprises.

The S-400 is a three-tier air defense system: 9M96, 48N6, and 40N6. The 48N6DM is a variant of the 48N6 from the S-300PMU-2 Favorit matched to the S-400 to provide the mid-range (to 200 km) tier of defense. The Fakel Machine Building Design Bureau developed two new missiles for Triumf, the shorter range 9M96 and the very long range 40N6. These new missiles can be accomodated on the existing SAM system launchers of the S-300PMU family. A container with four 9M96's can be installed in place of one container with the 5V55 or 48N6 missiles, and thus the the standard launcher intended for four 48N6Ye missiles can accommodate up to 16 9M96Ye missiles.

The Triumf air defense system can also use 48N6E missiles of the S-300PMU-1 system and 48N6E2 missiles of the S-300PMU-2 Favorit system, making it possible to smoothly change over to the production of the new generation system. It will include the previous control complex, though supporting not six but eight SAM systems, as well as multifunctional radar systems illumination and guidance, launchers, and associated autonomous detection and target indication systems.

The S-400 Triumph (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) was developed as an upgrade of the S300 series of surface-to-air missile systems. The system entered service in April 2007 and the first S-400 was deployed in combat in August 2007. Russia set up four S-400 regiments defending national airspace in the Moscow region, the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, and the Eastern Military District.

In early September 2014, the S-400s arrived in places of permanent deployment in the Southern Military District near the Russian city of Krasnodar from the Ashuluk testing range in the Astrakhan region after having conducted live-fire training exercises. Three S-400 regiments are deployed near Moscow in the cities of Dmitrov, Zvenigorod and Elektrostal, while another regiment was being deployed. Three more regiments are deployed in the Baltic Sea region, in the port city of Nakhodka and in the Southern Military District. Soon the regiment would also appear on the Kola Peninsula.

Almaz-Antey Air Defense Concern was established in 2002, has its headquarters in Moscow and delivers final products to foreign customers through JSC Rosoboronexport, as well as operates as an independent entity engaged in military and technical cooperation. The main scope of the concern's activities is the production, modernization, repair and disposal of the air defense systems.

Russia claims that the S-400 Triumf, a top-tier anti-aircraft weapon system produced in Russia, has no parallels across the globe in terms of combat capabilities. The US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] has shorter range and is incapable of hitting targets beyond the horizon. In addition, it is purely an anti-ballistic missile system designed to shoot down ballistic missiles.

The S-400 is capable of hitting targets at a height of up to 300 kilometers (186 miles). Its second distinctive feature is fire-and-forget capability. Its missiles are fitted with a homing device which can lock on a target and destroy it. Unlike US systems, it is said that the S-400 does not need to track the target. In addition, the S-400 is the only missile complex in the world capable of hitting targets located beyond the horizon. The system is also well protected against electronic warfare.

Anti-aircraft missile system S-400 "Triumph" that Russia has decided to transfer to Syria after the shoot-down of the bomber Su-24M, will not only ensure the protection of the Russian aircraft throughout the Middle Eastern country, but also can be tested in combat conditions. Such an opinion was expressed by 25 November 2015 TASS interview with military experts. After the operation in Syria S-400 will be returned to Russia.

The plans place the newest system S-400 on the Syrian Hmeymim airbase, where Russian aircraft stationed, said November 25 Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. As explained later, Assistant to the President for Military-Technical Cooperation, Vladimir Kozhin, leave the newest systems in Syria is not planned - they are transported back to Russia after the operation against terrorists.

The decision to transfer the S-400 to the Middle East was a reaction to the loss of the Su-24M, which was shot down on the eve of the Turkish F-16 fighter. Turkey said that the downed aircraft violated the airspace of the country, while the Defense Ministry insisted on the opposite - a Turkish fighter plane intruded into the sky over Syria and Russian bomber did not break any boundaries.

The Russian General Staff, voiced a number of measures that Russia will implement the shoot-down of the Su-24M. To the coast of Syria have approached the missile cruiser "Moskva", equipped with air defense system "Bastion" - the Marine version of the S-300, S-400 predecessor. Russian planes are to be sent in combat missions with Hmeymim airbases with fighter escort. In addition, the military promised to destroy any target that would pose a potential threat to Russian aviation in Syria.

As noted in an interview with Trend, Head of the strategic situation, Ivan Konovalov, the C-400 is one of the most long-range air defense systems. "He hit 400 kilometers, - the expert reminded. - Thus, the complex can cover a large part of the conflict zone." According to Konovalov, range S-400 would be enough to cover the Russian group on the whole territory of Syria.

Anti-aircraft missile system S-400 arrived for combat duty on the Russian air base in Syria Hmeymim, spokesman of the Defense Ministry of Russia Igor Konashenkov told reporters 26 November 2015. "In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Russia on the Russian air base in Syria Hmeymim was promptly delivered, deployed and has made atonement on alert to provide cover for the area air defense missile system S-400", he said.

S-400 is designed to destroy all types of current and future aerospace means of attack. The complex is capable of ranges of up to 400 km striking aerodynamic targets (aircraft, cruise missiles), and at a distance of 60 km - ballistic targets flying at speeds of up to 4.8 km / s at altitudes from a few meters to a few tens of kilometers.

According to Russian military experts, the S-400 zone is superior to the American Patriot system for aerodynamic purposes at least 1.5 times and twice and a half times for ballistic targets. The target range of "Triumph" with an anti-aircraft guided missile of the 40N6 type is 400 km, and the maximum height at which the object can be reached is 27 km. The low-flying objects of the missile are destroyed at a height of 5 m. For comparison: the American system is capable of hitting air targets flying only at an altitude of 60 m. The S-400 is rightly considered a universal weapon capable of destroying all modern and promising means of air and space attack.

The state program of armaments provides for the arrival of 56 S-400 divisions in the troops until 2020. At present, the basis of the air defense of Russia is the S-400 complexes. As of May 2016, the armed forces of the Russian army had 19 S-400 regiments (38 divisions out of 304 launchers). The Russian Armed Forces sent the second in 2017 a set of anti-aircraft missile system S-400. That is, the 20th regiment of this system was received. But this is also data from open sources, not officially confirmed.

Generally speaking, a lot of attention has recently been attracted to the S-400, mainly due to foreign deals. Of course, Washington is very worried about this, as it deals with the closest US allies in the Middle East, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Since the most potent long-range missile was still not operational by 2019, the currently fielded system uses the same long-range semi-active missile as the later versions of the older S-300-system, thus limiting range and performance against all targets but large aircraft at high altitude. Until the 40N6-missile is actually fielded, the main new features of the S-400 system is that its more modern radar is able to handle a greater number of targets simultaneously, and that its agile short- to medium-range active missiles have capabilities against low-flying and maneuvering targets and against incoming PGMs.

However, the comparatively short range of these agile missiles, in combination with the inherent problems of acquiring low-flying objects, limits the effective range of the S-400 against maneuvering targets at low altitude – such as cruise missiles or fighter aircraft. Against such targets its effective range may be as little as 20-35 km, or even less depending on the terrain.

Qatar was still studying the purchase of Russia's S-400 missile air defence system, Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said, adding that the potential deal - reportedly opposed by Saudi Arabia - was none of Riyadh's business. Following a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on 27 May 2019, Sheikh Mohammed also said there was no sign of a thaw in the Gulf crisis over allegations by Saudi Arabia and some other Arab states that Qatar supports terrorism. "There is a discussion for procurement of various Russian equipment but there is no understanding as of yet as to this particular equipment (S-400)," Sheikh Mohammed told a joint news conference with Lavrov.

"Interest in the S-400 air defense systems in the world remains at a consistently high level," Mikheev said in connection with the IDEX-2021 defense exhibition that opened in the UAE on February 2021. Russia supplied the S-400 under a contract to China and Turkey. In 2021, the delivery of the S-400 to India is to begin. "The signed contracts for the supply of these long-range systems with the leading world powers, as well as the progress of their execution both by Rosoboronexport and the manufacturer - the Almaz-Antey concern, show other countries the highest competence of the Russian side and prove our credibility as a reliable partner. "- said Mikheev.

"Without exception, all Russian systems and complexes have multiple experience of their successful combat use either in real military conflicts, or in live-fire exercises, which in essence is analogous to combat use," he said. Mikheev said that foreign customers periodically attend the exercises of the Russian army using the S-400, special firing is conducted for them at ranges in Russia. “Our openness and readiness for combat testing of the system plays a significant role in their choice,” he said.

Mikheev called the S-400 Triumph a unique system. "It has undeniable advantages over any competitors. In terms of maximum target destruction range (380 km), the S-400 surpasses its counterparts by almost two times. The closest competitive air defense system is 200 km, the rest lag behind the Russian system at times," he said.

“Today, one of the most important characteristics for air defense systems is the minimum target hit height. It speaks of the ability to effectively resist elements of high-precision weapons - the main damaging factors in modern warfare that inflict maximum damage on troops and infrastructure. As a rule, such targets fly at extremely low altitudes. , using the terrain as a natural camouflage. The S-400 is capable of destroying a cruise missile or any enemy aircraft at an altitude of 10 meters. Nothing flies below. The closest competitors lag behind our system in this indicator by 2 and a half times, " - said Mikheev.

"One of the most important factors in the effectiveness of an air defense system and its survivability in modern warfare is the time of its roll-up and deployment. According to this indicator, the S-400 outstripped its competitors by at least 3 times. The Triumph is able to start working on any targets just 5 minutes after It takes the same amount of time for him to leave a combat position. Competitors need at least 15 minutes to prepare to fire, "he said.

"The main advantage of the S-400 air defense system over competitors in the world market is its high versatility in destroying various types of targets. The S-400 air defense system is capable of destroying both aerodynamic targets (aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, UAVs, etc.) at a distance of almost 400 km and altitudes up to 30 km."

In early March 2022, Russian SAM defences rapidly became much better coordinated and the threat from long-range S-400 ‘Triumph’ SAM systems based in Belarus and Crimea forced Ukrainian aircraft to fly at extremely low altitude – below 100 ft – for most of their sorties on the northern and southern axes. The threat from these long-range SAMs was compounded by the presence of a Russian S-band 48Ya6 ‘Podlet-K1’ all-altitude radar in Belarus covering the Kyiv axis, and another in the south (which was later destroyed near Nova Kakovkha). These mobile radar systems were introduced in 2018, and have allowed Russian forces to track Ukrainian fixed-wing and rotary sorties at altitudes as low as 15 ft at well over 150 km. Given the method of operation of the Podlet-K1, it is unlikely to be capable of successfully supplying the high-resolution data required for terminal guidance illumination of low-flying targets at longer ranges.

The success on various occasions of low-flying Ukrainian fighters in ambushing Russian high-altitude patrols during the first week of the war in areas covered by the Podlet K-1 system would suggest it only gives a relatively low-resolution tracking capability. On the other hand, this may simply indicate a poor dissemination of surveillance information from the radar to the Il-20M ‘Coot’ airborne command post and relay aircraft passing information from ground networks to patrolling Russian fighters.

However, Podlet-K1 was designed to allow modern S-300 variants and the S-400 system to fire long-range missiles at a detected target, relay mid-course updates on the target movements to the missiles while in flight, and hence guide the missile close enough to detect and lock on to the aircraft in question with its own active radar seeker head as it descends from a high apex. The confident Ukrainian attribution of the loss of several aircraft to S-400 missile engagements while flying at very low altitude and at significant distances would, therefore, seem to suggest that longer-ranged missiles fired by these SAM systems do indeed possess a post-apex lock-on capability as previously theorised.


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S-400 Triumf / SA-21 Growler (2024)


How many S-400 batteries does Russia have? ›

At the start of 2023, Russia had around 96 S-400 mobile surface-to-air missile systems, also known by their NATO moniker SA-21 Growler, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

How effective is S-400? ›

The S-400 is able to intercept cruise missiles at a range of only about 40 km (25 mi) due to their low-altitude flight paths. With an active radar homing head, climbs to designated altitude then guidance switches to search & destroy mode. Claimed high hit probability with one missile against fast, maneuvering targets.

How much does S-400 Triumf cost? ›

At a price of over $600 million per unit, the S-400 is one of the most expensive air defense systems in Russia's inventory.

Can the S-400 be defeated? ›

Yes, an F-35 can defeat an S-300 or S-400.

How many S-400 batteries does China have? ›

TASS reported that as of the end of 2015, a total of eleven Russian missile regiments were armed with S-400, and by the end of 2016 their number was expected to increase to sixteen. China has at least six batteries of S-400.

What is the range of the SA 21 missile? ›

S-400 (SA-21)

With an engagement range of up to 400 km (250 mi), depending on the missile variant used, it was specifically designed to counter stealth aircraft.

Can S-400 shoot down Tomahawk? ›

S-400 has capability against normal cruise missile such as Tomahawk and USAF ALCM cruise missiles.

Can S-400 detect hypersonic missiles? ›

The total deployment time could extend to 45-90 minutes. Furthermore, the S-400 has limitations in countering hypersonic missiles due to speed and altitude constraints.

Was S-400 destroyed in Ukraine? ›

Four launchers for S-400 surface-to-air missiles and an air defense control point stationed at an air base in Dzhankoi were among equipment "destroyed or critically damaged", the agency said on Telegram. It added that the number of aircraft damaged or destroyed as a result of the attack was being clarified.

What is the speed of the S-400 Triumf missile? ›

Characteristics of the S-400
Max. target speed4.8 km/s (17,000 km/h; 11,000 mph; Mach 14)
Target detection distance600 km
The number of simultaneously engaged targets (full system)80
The number of simultaneously guided missiles (full system)160
Ready for operation on a signal from driving on the march5 min;
2 more rows

Is the S-400 cruise or ballistic? ›

The S-400 Triumf (NATO: SA-21 Growler) is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia. It is capable of engaging aircraft, UAVs, cruise missiles, and has a terminal ballistic missile defense capability.

Who is the manufacturer of S-400 missile? ›

The S-400 nicknamed Triumf or Triumph, NATO code-named SA-21 Growler is a long-range surface-to-air missile system produced by Almaz-Antey.

Can S-400 beat F-35? ›

Is the Russian S-400 missile system capable of shooting down the American F-35? Yes. Many different missiles could destroy the F-35.

Can S-400 shoot down ICBMs? ›

Patriot PAC-3 only 40km. Both are designed to intercept shorter-range theatre ballistic missiles, not ICBMs. S-400 max intercept altitude is about 35km, also for theatre ballistic missiles.

Can S-400 detect F22? ›

The F-22 has sensors that will keep the pilot out of detection range and weapons that will let it destroy the S-400 site well before it can be shot down.

How many Patriot missile batteries are there? ›

The Army said it currently has 16 Patriot battalions. A 2018 International Institute for Strategic Studies report found those battalions operate 50 batteries, which have more than 1,200 missile interceptors. The U.S. batteries are regularly deployed around the world.

How many S-400 battery India is buying? ›

New Delhi signed a $5.4 billion deal with Moscow in 2018 to acquire five S-400 air defence systems.As of October 2023, three formations of the S-400 Triumph air defence system have been delivered to India.

What is the US equivalent of the S-400? ›

The S-400 is considered broadly equivalent to the U.S. military's Patriot air defense system, and the gold-standard of Russian air defense. It is the upgraded version of Moscow's Cold War S-300, which has also been used in Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

How many S-400 are there in one squadron? ›

There are 16 vehicles in a squadron. An S-400 system can stop an attack from a variety of enemy weapons including drones and ballistic missiles in an area of 400 km.

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