Thursday, 17 November 2016

The S400 System At A Glance

Structure of S400 System:

S 400 has been designed by Russian Almaz-Antey Central Design Bureau to track , detect and shoot down aerodynamic targets like low observable fighter jet , stealth fighter jet ,UAV and ballistic missiles . The detection system consists of one 91N6E surveillance radar, up to six 98ZH6E units of each of 92N6E engagement system and twelve radars. The 91N6E and 92N6E are radars of higher power and provides longer ranges against stealthy targets. The missile launchers can launch missiles like 48N6E,48N6E2,48N6E3,9M96E, 9M96E2 and 40N6E.

Control Post 30K6E :

30K6E is the control post which obtains targets from radar systems like 91N6E, 96L6E, Protivnik-GE and Gamma-GE. Foreign systems can also get integrated with the system. Protivnik-GE and Gamma-GE are stealth detectors. Anti-stealth sub-systems Protivnik-GE and Gamma-GE have a detection capacity of 0.1 meter square for upto 240 Kilometers. The control system 30K6E can be used to integrate other systems like S300, Tor-M1 and Panstir-S1, nearby 30K6E systems, command posts for Russian fighter aircrafts, Nebo-M system and more. One battalion of S400 has seven to eight launchers with 32 missiles. One 30K6E administration system is capable of managing eight battalions.

Nebo-M System:

Nebo-M system is a part of 30K6E which works with X,L and UHF band radars. It is specifically designed to hunt J-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Component using VHF band provides sector search and track functions with the X band and L band components providing finer tracking capability. Accurate placement of the radar in relation to the threat axis illuminates the target from angles which reflects suboptimal RCS. This system is highly resistant to jamming due to passive angle track capability against jammers which enables zeroing on the jamming source passively using three angle tracking outputs. It is capable of highly accurate tracking for midcourse guidance for modern SAM and full trajectory guidance of legacy SAM of Russian origin.

Radar system 91N6E:

This system has a targeting range of 230 kilometers for RCS of 0.4 square meter and speed of 4800m/s, range of 390 kilometers for RCS of 4 meter square and 570 kilometers for strategic bombers type targets.

Radar 96L6E:

This is high altitude detector system. It can detect targets at an altitude of 100 kilometers. The 96L6E2 which is the export version has capability to track 100 targets. This system is resistant to false return or clutter. It also detects low level targets with radar sector review. It can omnidirectionally detect all aircraft types, including low observable ones like FA 18 and is capable of performing functions of a command post for S300 as well as S500 (future SAM of Russia). It uses a special tower 966AA14 for detecting cruise missile and stealth fighter jets.

Missiles Of S400 System At A Glance:


It is a anti-AWACS, refueling aerial tanker destroyer, and anti-EW aircraft missile designed to engage low maneuverable targets at a range of 400 kilometers at optimum altitude of 185 kilometers. It has both active and semi-active radar seeker. 


It is a missile used to take down aircraft, cruise missile, UAV, ballistic missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles. It has the capability to engage ICBM traveling at the speed of 2800 meters per second. It has a range of 200 Kilometers. It is capable of performing in an environment of electronic warfare and is highly maneuverable with capability of attaining speed of 2000 meters per second. This missile has a fragmentation warhead of 180 kilograms with proximity fuse.


This missile has characteristics of 48N6E2 with an extended range of 250 kilometers and is capable of hitting a target having velocity of 4800 meters per second .

9M96E And 9M96E2:

This is an advanced surface to air missile with thrust vectoring capacity capable of engaging targets in severe jamming environment with unprecedented effectiveness. It is capable of engaging the target traveling at a speed of mach 15 at maximum altitude of 35 kilometers and a minimum altitude of five meters. It has active radar homing head and is capable of receiving target updates from ground radars of S400 and an inertial navigation system for midcourse guidance. 9M96E has a range of 40 kilometers with an altitude of 20 kilometers while 9M96E2 has a range of 120 kilometers at an altitude of 30 Kilometers traveling at nearly 1000 meters per second. It has 24 kg blast fragmentation warhead and utilizes a radiofrequency fuse. A missile of this series had been noted to hit a target at an altitude of 56 kilometers which was beyond the expected range of altitude of the missile.

Summing Up The Capability Of S400 At A Glance

S400 systems is capable of engaging targets traveling at a speed of 4800 meters per second or mach 14. Its radars have a detection range of 600 kilometers with a maximum range of engaging aerodynamic targets at 400 kilometers and minimum range of two kilometers. It can engage targets at a maximum altitude of 56 kilometers and minimum of five meters. It has the capacity of hitting flying targets having tactical warheads at a maximum range of 60 kilometers and minimum of five kilometers with a combination of missiles launched from S400 system which are capable of engaging targets in their terminal phase. It can simultaneously engage a minimum of 36 targets and a maximum of number of 80 targets.

Such a range of missiles is perceived to be capable of hitting bombers bombers like B-1, electronic warfare planes such as FA 18 Growler, All types of AWACS, fighter jets such as F15,F16,F35 and F22 raptor, strategic cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with the range of 3500 kilometers. Carriers that come with S 400 have a road speed of 60 kilometers per hour, off road speed of 25 kilometers per hour.

Morpheus Defence System:

It is has been developed as a short-range SAM to protect S400 from various threats at their terminal phases. The missile system consists of omnidirectional 29YA6 radar, IR sensors , and 36 missiles. The missiles have a range of 5 Kilometers and an altitude of 3500 meters. Morpheus is developed to shield military sites as well. The system is equipped with radars in he category of all-aspect radar dome as well as launchers for anti-aircraft missiles. The system is still evolving.

An inference On Coverage Of S400 Systems Along The Concept Of A Two Front War:

It seems that the current order of five S 400 systems may have been considered for most vulnerable areas at the borders of China and Pakistan as perceived by Indian defence experts. Considering the engagement range of the missile 40N6E of 400 kilometers a comprehensive coverage providing a protective umbrella all along the border with Pakistan and China the number should not be less than thirteen systems of S400 with five at the length of the border with Pakistan which runs along the borders of J&K, Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat , and another string of eight S400 systems along the border with China which runs along the borders of J&K, Himachal Pradesh,Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh taking into consideration missile attack by China across the airspace of Nepal and Bhutan. Further taking into account the redundancy required during war owing to cannibalization of the systems further five S400 systems (two for the Western borders with Pakistan and three for borders along with China) can be a necessary acquisition.

Though this estimation of umbrella of coverage by S400 has been made based on the radius of coverage of 400 Kilometers by the missile 40N6E along the aforesaid borders of India , a closer look into other the types of missiles fired from the S400 systems notably the 48N6E3 and 9M96E2 missiles seem to be suited to the threat perception of mitigating ballistic and cruise missiles in their terminal phase . Certain missiles in S400 system should merit acquisition in greater numbers making way for the opportunity of a single S400 system along with its missile launchers to provide a layered defence thereby enabling it to work with highest efficiency. Hopefully defence experts maintaining synergy with Ministry Of Defence of India will do justice in acquisition of the types of missiles according to their threat perception and in the process do justice to the number of S400 systems acquired .


In the scenario of the possibility of a two front war Indian deterrence against ballistic & cruise missiles and stealth aircraft from both China and Pakistan should get mitigated very well. The acquisition of S400 system is master stroke by Ministry of Defence of India.

For a estimation of total requirement of a missile defence system like S400 one can visit the webpage

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