MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Enemy Su-27s attack S-400 Triumf air defense systems in the Kaliningrad region. After receiving the alert signal, the S-400 regiment deployed and blocked the Su-27 attack after identifying and intercepting it with a surface-to-air missile. These are not actual combat operations, but training exercises conducted by the Baltic Fleet in the Kaliningrad region.
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The exercise took place on March 28. The main goal was to strengthen the capabilities of the air defense batteries in the face of an air attack. An entire missile regiment made up of S-400 Triumf has been developing strategic methods of reaction at the moment of receiving a signal “of an enemy air vehicle in the airspace”. As has already become clear, Russian Su-27s were sent to play the role of an enemy squadron attacking the Kaliningrad region.
S-400 batteries fired fictitious surface-to-air missiles. According to a report from the Russian Ministry of Defense, all targets were intercepted and destroyed.
This is not the first exercise taking place in March. On March 21, the Baltic Russian fleet conducted another exercise simulating an air attack and dogfight over the Kaliningrad region with Su-30 fighter jets. There are reports that at least 10 fighters of this model took part in the exercise. Later, just days ago, the Pacific Fleet conducted an anti-ship missile strike exercise at a distance of 100 km in Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan.
Kaliningrad is an important administrative Russian city, but also a key military tactical position of the Russian Federation. The city is strategically located between Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. The main base of the Baltic Navy of the Russian Federation is located in this city. A significant number of ground and air forces are also stationed in the city.
These forces protect the Kaliningrad region and extend Russia’s shore-based air and sea denial capabilities, also known as A2/AD, in the Baltic Sea and the surrounding region. The population of the region is within half a million people and it is a “thorn in the ass” for NATO military planners, namely because of its location.
Russian planners are using Kaliningrad to counter NATO’s expanding missile shield. S-400 batteries were first sent to the region nearly ten years ago. Later, Russia decided to add the Iskander short-range missile system to them. It was the deployment of these two systems that were the reason for the first talk of war between Russia and NATO sometime in 2014.
There are still no clear comments on the exercises conducted in the Baltic region. Some Eastern military experts believe that Moscow is sending a signal to the West that Russia is either ready or preparing “for close action”.
One significant fact should be noted – years ago, Moscow began withdrawing [but not completely] its S-300 air defense systems and replacing them with S-400 precisely in the Kaliningrad region. This is important in terms of the functioning of both systems. Unlike the S-300, the S-400 can operate in a wider range to meet certain operational needs.
For example, depending on the air threat, the S-400 can use different missiles in each of its four missile tubes. The system can fire a missile to destroy a target at 250 km, 120 km, or a very short range of 40 km.
However, the S-400 can not only counter threats at different distances but also various air threats. In addition to standard air threats, the S-400 can counter stealth technologies as well as modern electronic warfare tools used by NATO systems. I.e. the so-called anti-ECM [electronic countermeasures].
The S-400 deploys within five minutes. S-400 missiles can reach targets in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The S-400 is perhaps the best air defense system in the world, but it has its downside. According to experts, the flaw is in the location of the radar. Because it is not placed high, the radar has a hard time detecting targets over the horizon. To overcome this problem, the radar must be mounted on a high structure. According to its functional capabilities, the S-400 can counter 16 air targets simultaneously.
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