The S-300P and S-400: Russia’s strategic defenders

12 Apr 2018 Sean O'Connor

This blog post is an extract of a Jane's Intelligence Briefing recorded on 5 April 2018. The briefing was compiled using a variety of Jane's content, but in particular Jane's Military and Security Assessments Intelligence Centre.

The S-300P series was developed to provide a strategic SAM system capable of dealing with multiple targets, including low-altitude cruise missiles. Throughout its history, it has been modified and upgraded into numerous variants with increasing capabilities. The penultimate development is the current S-400.

Watch a 10 minute extract of this Intelligence Briefing

Early Development History

Following the end of firing trials for the S-200 (SA-5 GAMMON), the VPK (Soviet Military Industrial Commission) solicited concepts for a next-generation system. Desired characteristics were a multiple-target engagement capability, the first for a Soviet SAM, anti-missile capability, high mobility, and suitability for use across the Soviet military. The latter was already common to a degree, for example with the Soviet Navy adopting the PVO's S-125 (SA-3 GOA) as a naval SAM. MKB Strela, the forerunner of NPO Almaz, proposed the S-300.

Debate arose over whether one system could meet the requirements for the three intended service arms.

The S-300PS

Testing of the S-300PS, the fully capable iteration of the S-300P conceived in 1969, began in 1978 at Sary Shagan. Testing concluded in 1981, but service entry was delayed until 1983 as sufficient infrastructure to support the missile batteries was completed.

The 5 minute emplacement time was validated during testing. Colonel-General Anatoliy Khyupenen, the chair of the commission overseeing the testing of the S-300PS, was one of a group of individuals skeptical of the 5 minute claim. During one test, a battery was planned to drive to a launch position, set up, and fire at a target on the range. This didn't sit well with the General, who was unsure of the logic behind using a pre-selected firing site to verify the system's ability to geolocate, emplace, and engage in 5 minutes. As it turns out, the General got the demonstration he desired. One of the vehicles in the battery developed a mechanical issue during the drive to the launch site, causing the battery to halt. Rather than reschedule the test, it was decided to have the battery emplace on site and engage the target, which was already aloft. The test proceeded successfully, and the 5 minute emplacement time was verified.

The S-300PT and S-300PS can make use of 40V6 series mast assemblies to increase radar field of view in the presence of obstacles. This does require an emplacement time of between 45 to 90 minutes.

The S-300PM

Testing of the S-300PS, the fully capable iteration of the S-300P conceived in 1969, began in 1978 at Sary Shagan. Testing concluded in 1981, but service entry was delayed until 1983 as sufficient infrastructure to support the missile batteries was completed.

The 5 minute emplacement time was validated during testing. Colonel-General Anatoliy Khyupenen, the chair of the commission overseeing the testing of the S-300PS, was one of a group of individuals skeptical of the 5 minute claim. During one test, a battery was planned to drive to a launch position, set up, and fire at a target on the range. This didn't sit well with the General, who was unsure of the logic behind using a pre-selected firing site to verify the system's ability to geolocate, emplace, and engage in 5 minutes. As it turns out, the General got the demonstration he desired. One of the vehicles in the battery developed a mechanical issue during the drive to the launch site, causing the battery to halt. Rather than reschedule the test, it was decided to have the battery emplace on site and engage the target, which was already aloft. The test proceeded successfully, and the 5 minute emplacement time was verified.

The S-300PT and S-300PS can make use of 40V6 series mast assemblies to increase radar field of view in the presence of obstacles. This does require an emplacement time of between 45 to 90 minutes.

The S-400

Development of the S-400 began in 1985 as a 400 km range "long-range" SAM system capable of replacing the S-200. At this time, there was also an S-350 under consideration, as an S-300P series replacement. By 1988, both programme goals were consolidated under the S-400 banner, with the S-350 designator appearing again in the future as another S-300P replacement programme.

S-400 trials began at Kapustin Yar in 1993, using the 48N6D missile. Trials proceeded slowly due to the economic issues following the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Engagement Radars

All engagement radars can be mounted atop 40V6 series mast assemblies.

The radar has very low sidelobes due to the use of four sidelobe-cancelling antennas which surround the engagement radar array. Each of the four circular antennas can be used to sample the unwanted energy from enemy jammers so that it can be fed into the radar receiver channel out of phase with a jamming signal present in the received path to reduce the effects of the jamming. This technique creates a null in the antenna coverage towards the jammer, but the use of four sidelobe-canceller antennas enables the system to cope with up to four jammers simultaneously. Also, a narrow pencil-beam mainlobe makes the system harder to detect.

Missile Capabilities

HEF - High Explosive Fragmentation; D - Directional

Missile capabilities have increased with each new iteration fielded. Later systems are backwards compatible, capable of using older missiles.

  • 5V55K and 5V55KD are command guided, the remaining missiles employ SAGG
  • 40N6 (400 km) and 40N6E (380 km) are not listed as they are not confirmed to be operational
  • 9M96 series is not listed as it has not been procured by any export customer, and will enter Russian service as a component of the S-350 SAM system

This blog post is an extract from a Jane's Intelligence Briefing held on 5th April 2018, which was compiled using Jane's open source data and expert analysis on political stability, military capabilities, national security concerns and international relations. For more information visit Jane's Military and Security Assessments Intelligence Centre.

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