Britain: Losses will likely force Russia to redeploy its S-400s

According to a recent briefing disseminated by the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom [MoD], there is a probability that Russia will be compelled to rearrange its crucial air defense components following the substantial depletion of its long-distance S-400 air defense systems.

The latest advisory, disseminated on the Official UK MoD account via Platform X, stated, “In light of the preceding week’s divulged reductions of numerous Russian SA-21 long-range Surface to Air Missile [SAM] systems, fresh examination implies that for sustaining oversight over Ukraine, Russia will presumably necessitate redistribution of SAMs, which are customarily safeguarding the remote regions of Russia.” SA-21 is the terminology ascribed to the S-400 system by the West.

Over the past several weeks, cutting-edge and costly Russian air defense systems have been particularly targeted by Ukrainian forces. To exemplify, by the closing days of October, it was reported that Ukraine had demolished four S-400 systems. This substantial achievement was likely made possible by the utilization of their newly obtained weaponry, notably the Army Tactical Missile System [ATACMS], procured from the United States.

S-400 jointly with A-50 AEW&C shot down Su-27 and MiG-29 - Russia
Photo credit: LinkedIn

In the initial days of November, there occurred yet another wave of assaults, specifically targeting the Kerch Strait. Defense analysts assert that this incident epitomized the revolutionary tactics employed by the Ukrainian Air Force to overwhelm and neutralize the Russian aerial defense mechanisms, underscoring the comprehensive detail and logical coherence of their strategies. 

This insinuates a calculated maneuver aimed at disabling the S-400 system, responsible for the downing of numerous Ukrainian aircraft, in combination with an A-50 Airborne Warning and Control System [AWACS] aircraft as formerly detailed in the BulgarianMilitary.com report.

The objective of targeting the formidable S-400 is to destabilize Russia’s frontline strategies and derail a number of its tactical battlefield computations rooted in this advanced surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. Boasting a maximum range of 400 kilometers, the Russian S-400 air defense mechanism presents a significant challenge.

The strategic shift of the air defense systems from the peripheral areas carries notable weight. As per the assertions of the UK Ministry of Defence [MoD], positioning these systems at crucial points, especially alongside Russia

The borders yield a significant shift impact. The air defense removal of such systems would, in all likelihood, result in borders that undermine a of substantial Russia’s air implication defense stance at its remote boundaries.

“The redistribution of key air defense resources underscores the ongoing overstretched condition of Russia’s military, instigated by the Ukraine conflict, and the subsequent challenges it faces in maintaining fundamental defenses across its expansive territory,” the intelligence report deduced. Russia, over the years, has steadily prioritized the development of a resilient, advanced, long-reach air defense apparatus, integrating it as an essential tenet of its military agenda.

The onslaught launched by Ukrainian forces on the state-of-the-art anti-aircraft channels has caused a significant downturn in their aerial defense capabilities. It has necessitated a shift in strategic positioning, thereby unsettling various forecasts related to combat planning. In addition, this aggression has shed light on the deficiencies and loopholes within the highly touted air defense mechanisms.

It appears that Russia suffered a significant loss with at least four high-range Surface-to-Air Missile [SAM] launchers falling victim to Ukrainian offensives. Reports that appeared in the Russian media on October 26th pointed towards the loss of three “SA-21 launchers” within the geographic confines of the Luhansk region. Further unconfirmed reports from sources within Ukraine suggest additional losses within the realm of Russian air defense in the Crimea region.  

S-400's interceptor fires metal fragments at the target's warhead
Photo credit: Russian MoD

The erstwhile evaluation by British Intelligence underscored that the forfeiture of the S-400s evinced an ongoing challenge within Russia’s Integrated Air Defense System when faced with contemporary precision strike weaponry, thereby potentially exacerbating the workload on the remaining systems and their operators. The likelihood of Russia resorting to the allocation of S-400s from disparate regions to replace the ruined systems can consequentially undermine the robustness of its air defense mechanisms in other operational zones.

https://bulgarianmilitary.com/2023/01/11/f-35-af-7-flies-for-50-minutes-and-initiates-stealth-version-4/
Photo credit: MWM

The most recent analysis by the UK does not venture to specify the exact locations within Russia from which the nation would deploy its S-400 air defense mechanisms to proximate areas near the frontline. It is worth noting the significant financial implication of this maneuver – each relocation resulting in an S-400 loss has an estimated cost to Russia of around US$500 million. Additionally, the production of new armaments presents a laborious task for the Russian defense industry, considering they are currently entangled in the complexities resulting from international sanctions.

Simultaneously, feelings of displeasure are escalating once more within the Russian factions as the conflict persists, systematically edging toward the completion of its second year. This growing hostility surfaced when youthful demonstrators began resorting to the disruption of Russian rail lines, adding an additional conundrum to the already extensive list of challenges the Kremlin is grappling with.

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