OREANDA-NEWS. The experts of the American private intelligence company Stratfor published the materials on the potential of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems. They came to the conclusion that S-400 is not always able to realize its theoretical capabilities. Much depends on who uses this weapon and in what way he does it.

First of all, the Stratfor’s specialists admitted that the Russian S-400 is one of the best strategic systems of nowadays. The experts name its main advantages: a wide range, a flexible ability to hit various targets (including airplanes, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles), as well as high tech sensors that are capable to withstand stealth technology (low observability). “In the hands of competent and well-trained crews, modern long-range SAMs (surface-to-air missiles. – Ed.) such as the S-400 can inflict significant damage on an adversary. Their ranges allow them to target key enemy enabler aircraft, such as valuable aerial refueling tankers and airborne early warning and control aircraft. Their flexible targeting capabilities mean they can defend against multiple different types of threats and attacks. And their – albeit limited – anti-stealth capabilities offer the potential to bring down some of the best combat aircraft currently in operation,” the article says.

However, the experts note, S-400 are good only in the context in which they exist, the effectiveness of the system depends on the type of an adversary. The S-400 battalion has around eight launchers, typically with four missiles each. The authors of a study say: “32 missiles are certainly enough to cause serious harm to a limited attack. But if an S-400 battalion is acting in isolation or is not backed up by other modern air defenses, it likely doesn't have enough missiles to withstand a determined onslaught.”

Besides, geographic factors strongly influence the systems potential, and mountainous terrain can block the operation of system sensors. “A low-flying target can take advantage of geographical features and the curvature of the earth to avoid an S-400 interception for far longer than a high-flying target. So, against a low-flying cruise missile, an S-400 will more likely find success at a distance in the tens of kilometers rather than in the hundreds,” the experts say.

So, the conclusion is that S-400 are not designed to operate as autonomous systems, they are effective in the composition of a much wider integrated air defense system.