[Model Answer QP2021 GS3]How is the S-400 air defence system technically superior to any other system presently available in the world?


Considered one of the most advanced and potent air defence systems in the world, S-400 Triumf has the capability to protect against almost all sorts of aerial attacks, including drones, missiles, rockets and even fighter jets. 

  • The system, intended to act as a shield over a particular area, is a long-range surface-to-air missile system.
  • S-400 can engage intruding aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.
  • Each unit has two batteries, each of which has a command-and-control system, a surveillance radar, an engagement radar and four lunch trucks.
How does it work?

S-400 detects an aerial threat approaching the air defence bubble (the area it has to protect), calculates the trajectory of the threat, and fires missiles to counter it.

It has long-range surveillance radars that send information to the command vehicle. On identifying the target, the command vehicle orders a missile launch.

Think of the Iron Dome, recently used by Israel to protect against incoming rockets from Gaza May. Only, S-400 has the capacity to protect a much larger area from threats that are much farther.

Comparing S-400 with the American MIM-104 Patriot system

It said S-400 can be deployed within five minutes, compared to 25 minutes for Patriot (PAC-3).

It has a speed of 4.8 km/s compared to 1.38 km/s. 

It is cheaper too, with a per-battery cost of approximately $500 million, compared to the Patriot’s $1 billion.


A recent article in the US Air Force’s Journal for Indo-Pacific Command stated. It has “surfaced as an anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) asset designed to protect military, political, and economic assets from aerial attacks”.

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