Russia inadvertently said that it has a ‘hole’ in the S-400 skills

In a surprising disclosure, experts in the Russian Federation have inadvertently revealed a significant flaw in the 40N6 missile deployed within the S-400 air defense system.
Photo credit: MWM

Given this newfound understanding of the system’s limitations, it is now evident that the S-400 lags remarkably behind modern anti-aircraft technology by approximately 30 years. 

A seemingly boastful narrative about Russia’s weaponry arsenal has unexpectedly revealed that contrary to multiple declarations, the defensive capabilities of the S-400 complex do not extend to combatting ballistic missiles.

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

As Russian experts attempted to characterize the S-400’s superiority over Western counterparts, their explanations have unexpectedly underscored not an edge, but rather a technological lag in its development. 

Attention has particularly concentrated on the 40N6 missile, with orders numbering 1,000 over the past three years. This emphasis results from an earlier admission by the Russian Federation stating that another key missile in the S-400 defense system, the 9M96, does not carry out kinetic interception. Instead, it merely facilitates a close-range explosion of the target in proximity.

Within the context of a ballistic target attack, it was previously stated that the 40N6 missile, to quote, “engages and neutralizes the enemy’s warhead with a shower of metal fragments.” To that end, the missile can potentially accomplish this at a minimal distance of merely 15 kilometers as evidenced by its previously released attributes. 

Russia buys 1000 long-range 40N6 anti-aircraft missiles for S-400
Photo credit: Reddit

However, it is discernible that the 40N6 missile does not undertake a kinetic interception of the target. Notably, its infliction of damage through debris does not guarantee the assured neutralization of a ballistic missile. This is due to the missile’s descent onto its target, and the trivial impact exerted on this process by the debris damage. 

Indeed, parallels can be drawn with the late 80s Patriot PAC 2, which was thought to have been specifically retrofitting for the interception of ballistic missiles. Enhancement of the radar detonator’s operation and a weight augmentation of the striking elements from 2 to 45 grams were earmarked for this task. 

Netherlands buys 96 GEM ballistic missiles for its Patriots
Photo credit: Raytheon

Flashback to the 1991 Gulf War, claims emerged that 41 out of 42 Iraqi Scud missiles [Elbrus complex’s P-17s and their derivatives] were intercepted, representing a 97% hit rate. This percentage, however, was later downgraded to a more moderate 55%. 

After an independent investigation to account for the financial expenditure incurred for the Patriot’s upgrade to PAC 2, a congressional committee postulated in 1992 that the efficacy of the Patriot’s then-current model stood at a mere 9%. 

Japan increasing PAC3 detection range to counter Beijing's DF-17
Photo credit: blogspot

This revelation ignited the commencement of a new Patriot enhancement initiative, focusing on the kinetic interception of ballistic missiles, resulting in the creation of the CRI anti-missile and the subsequent development of the MSE. In tandem, prime components from the highly recognized Strategic Defense Initiative program were utilized in the Patriot PAC 3’s development. 

Kinetic interception, as demonstrated by European SAMP/T and Israeli “David’s Sling”, is a guiding feature and a differential factor of all anti-missile capable systems, inclusive of high-tier anti-missile defense equipment.

The order

In alignment with its strategic goal for the year 2027, it is anticipated that the Russian Federation will augment its artillery arsenal by accumulating more than 1,000 units of the 40N6 long-range anti-aircraft missiles. These potent weaponry units are engineered with the specific intention to bolster the efficacy of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems. 

These systems have already transcended the theoretical design stage and are currently operational within existing military facilities. A considerable subset of them is destined for deployment in future anti-aircraft missile divisions, falling under the expansive purview of the VKS. 

In the seventh month of the present year, joint state tests of the 40H6 anti-aircraft missile were accomplished, as evidenced by thorough reports. Looking ahead, projections based on Russian media sources indicate that Russia intends to establish no fewer than 56 divisions of S-400 air defense systems by the year 2027.


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