TechRussian air defenses falter: Shortage of S-300/400 systems exposed

Russian air defenses falter: Shortage of S‑300/400 systems exposed

S-300PS anti-aircraft system - illustrative photo
S-300PS anti-aircraft system - illustrative photo
Images source: ©

6:16 PM EDT, June 11, 2024

The Russians have far fewer long-range S-300/400 anti-aircraft complexes than they need, reports the Ukrainian agency Unian, citing calculations by military analyst Oleksandr Kowalenko.

In recent weeks, there has been increasing information from the front about the destruction of Russian S-300/400 systems by Ukrainians. The aggressor army lost this weapon during the June attack in the Belgorod region and also during the shelling with MGM-140 ATACMS missiles at the Dzhankoy airport in Crimea.

In light of these increasing destructions of key Russian anti-aircraft missile systems, it's worth examining how many S-300/400 complexes remain in the Russian Federation's arsenal. Analyst Oleksandr Kowalenko has calculated that the aggressor's army has significantly fewer weapon systems than needed to protect the country from air threats.

Russians have fewer and fewer S-300/400 systems

Kowalenko explains that since mid-April, Ukrainian armed forces have been systematically attacking Crimea with ATACMS missiles costing approximately 1.5 million dollars each. They guarantee the destruction of air defense systems worth over 1 billion dollars.

According to the analyst, in Crimea alone, Ukrainians managed to destroy at least three S-400 divisions, while at the beginning of 2024, 44 divisions of these complexes remained in Russian service. Additionally, the arsenal of the Russian Federation still holds 63 divisions of S-300 systems. This totals about 100 divisions of S-300 and S-400. Note that the standard size of a Russian division is 12 launchers.

Although the number of S-300/400 systems currently in Russian possession might seem enormous, the analyst has a different opinion. Considering the territory of Russia that needs protection, the Russians need over a thousand such divisions, and there are only about a hundred.

Kowalenko adds that Ukrainians are systematically destroying more launchers to further weaken Russian air defense and provide Ukrainian missiles with enough space to carry out further attacks. The Russian Federation, on the other hand, finds it very difficult to rebuild destroyed S-300/400s due to the fact that it is a very costly and time-consuming process. Thus, the number of divisions will continue to shrink, according to the analyst.

Let us recall that the S-300 complexes are one element of the Russian missile defense shield. An additional element is the S-400 Triumf, which is essentially an upgraded version of the older S-300. These weapons are valuable because they can intercept almost any airborne threat—aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles.

The S-400 Triumf's range is specified as 25-250 miles. The set uses various missiles for firing, the most popular of which is the over 2-ton 48N6DM/48N6E3. Its warhead weighs nearly 440 pounds and hits targets approximately 155 miles from the launch site.

Compared to the S-400 Triumf, the older S-300 sets are also a crucial tool for the Russian Federation to counter airborne threats. The most advanced missiles for this complex measure about 25 feet long and over 1.6 feet in diameter. They accelerate during flight to up to 4,350 miles per hour and can hit a target moving at an altitude of up to 17 miles.

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