Why China wants Russian S-400 missile defence system?

Why China wants Russian S-400 missile defence system?

China considers Russian S-400 missile systems a ‘necessity’, according to Russian media said quoting Chinese sources.

Because of its capabilities, several countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, and Qatar have expressed their appreciation for the S-400 system. China indeed was the first foreign buyer to seal a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014.

These are four reasons why China wants to buy the Russian S-400 missile defence system.

1. Extended operational range

The S-400 radars and sensors, as well as its missiles, can cover an extensive area – the radar has a range of at least 600km for surveillance, and its missiles have ranges of up to 400km.

The Russian complex is also capable of intercepting ballistic missiles at a greater range than some of its competitors.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force tested fr the first time the S-400 system in 2018 shooting down a “simulated ballistic target” about 250km away and moving at the supersonic speed of 3km per second.

Quantitative analysis of theS-400 missile defence system:
– Max. target speed: 4.8km per second.
– Operational Range (km): 400km.
– Guidance System: Active Radar Homing.
– Flight Altitude: 185 km for 40N6 30 km for 9M96 and 9M96E2.
– Launchers: At least eight launchers with 32 missiles and a mobile C2 post.
– Warhead: directed explosion warhead.

2. Stealth killer

The S-400 is a precise missile defence system that can track simultaneously a large number of targets, including stealth targets. The S-400 and forthcoming S-500 family come with systems designed to detect and track the presence of low observable (LO) aircraft such as the F-22 and F-35.

“The S-400 is among the most advanced air defence systems available, on par with the best the West has to offer,” said Siemon Wezeman, senior researcher with Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI).

Why China wants Russian S-400 missile defence system?

However, experts believes that the S-400 air defenses will still struggle to effectively engage fifth-generation stealth aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor or F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

“In terms of establishing viable air defenses against opponents with fifth generation aircraft, it’s quite clear how Russia is trying to tackle the problem of stealth,” said Mike Kofman, a research scientist specializing in Russian military affairs at CNA Corporation.

3. One-size-fits-all missile system

The S-400 is intended to be a one-size-fits-all missile system. Indeed, it can be configured with long-range, semi long-range, medium-range and even short-range weapons systems, depending on how the individual user wishes to configure the S-400.

4. Competitive price

While China has its own Hongqi-9 (HQ-9) air defense systems, its production cost is still higher than the S-400.

The S-400 reported cost is $300 million per fire unit (artillery battalion) that consists of 9 launchers, 120 missiles, command and support vehicles.

Matteo Natalucci

Matteo Natalucci is a geopolitics expert working as an Editor in London covering all aspects of international affairs and technology. Matteo previously worked for the United Nations, the European Commission, Thomson Reuters, Bloomberg, IHS Markit, and Global Data. Get in touch with the author: matteo.natalucci@internationalinsider.org

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