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Explained: How S400 Air Defence System Works?

Hello defence lovers! The deliveries of the S400 triumph air defence system have begun. Once Inducted it will take India’s air defence capabilities to a next level. In this article, we will discuss how this S400 system works.

To understand how the entire S400 system works we have to understand its components. A typical S400 system has 4 components. A long-range surveillance radar, a command and control post mounted on a vehicle, an engagement radar and a launch vehicle carrying missiles. Let us discuss these individual components in detail.

Long Range Surveillance Radar

it is the most powerful surveillance equipment of the entire s400 system. The main radar is the 91N6E radar. It is an active electronically scanned array radar with 2700 TR modules. It is an upgraded form of 64N6E radar ( NATO reporting name Tombstone ). The antenna design is the same as its predecessor but it has a much higher transmission power. This radar has a panoramic detection system and can track up to 300 targets at a time up to ranges of 600 km. 91N6E is well protected against jammers. The entire setup is mounted on an MZKT-7930 8×8 truck. Indian systems however may have Volvo trucks as carriers.

Command and Control Post

S400 system has mobile S5K6E command and control post mounted on Ural 532301 tuck. All actions starting from detection of the target to firing missiles from the launchers will be controlled from here. The Indian version will probably be mounted on BEML Tatra trucks.

Engagement Radar

Now let us discuss the engagement radar or the fire-control radar. 92N6E is the main fire control radar of the s400 system. It is a multifunctional radar with a range of 400 km. There are two optional engagement radars. The first one is 96L6E which is an all-altitude detector. The second one is 40V6MR. This radar is used to detect low flying targets which are using terrain masking to hide from radar.


Now let us discuss the most crucial components – the missiles. The missiles are carried in a launch vehicle. The launch vehicle is generally a trailer containing the 5P85TE2 lurchers. The launcher system is equipped with 4 silos in which missiles are kept. There are 4 different types of missiles in the system.

  1. 9M96E short-range missile ( Range 40 Kilometers )
  2. 9M96E2 medium-range missile ( Range 120 kilometres)
  3. 48N6 long range missile ( Range 250 kilometers )
  4. 40N6E very long-range missile ( Range 400 kilometres)

India is buying 5 regiments of the S 400 system. Each regiment will have two batteries. Each battery will have 4 launchers. Each regiment will be equipped with 200 missiles of different types. Thus each launcher will have 25 missiles out of which up to 4 long-range or 12 short-range missiles will be in ready to fire mode. Other missiles will be stored in loader systems. The 5P85TE2 transporter erector launchers can carry up to 4 canisters. Each canister can have up to 3 9M96E short-range missiles in triple stack conditions. Larger missiles will have a canister of their own. Each canister works on gas ejection systems which ejects the missiles up to 30 meters in the air after which the rocket motor of the missile starts. Thus each regiment will have 8 launchers. Altogether 1000 missiles will be procured.

How All Components Work In Synergy

Now let us discuss how all the components work in synergy. At first the long-range surveillance radar pics up targets. It then passes the information to the command and control station. The Command and control centre decides whether the target is friendly or hostile. It also decides or receives orders from higher command theatre to engage the target or not. Once permission to engage is obtained, the command and control centre then instructs the launchers to launch the suitable missile. Once the missiles are launched, these are guided to the target using the engagement radar. The engagement radar and surveillance radar constantly interact with each other to determine the trajectory of the missiles based on the real-time location of the target. A single S 400 system has multiple launchers which can be placed at different locations. The command and control post can choose the launcher located in the most suitable location. At a time the system can track up to 300 targets, engage 80 targets at once and can guide up to 160 missiles simultaneously (2 missiles to hit a single target).

Also Read, S-400 System: India Vs China


With its various types of missiles, the S 400 system can shoot down a large variety of targets such as small UAVs, fighters, helicopters, bombs, small AGMs, cruise missiles, stealth fighters and even ballistic missiles. Once deployed, the S400 system creates and nearly impenetrable multilayer dome of air defence. So we have explained how the S 400 system works. Follow our website for more such interesting articles.


Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.


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