S400 vs F35 Comparison Can the S400 shoot down the F35? | Specifications, Radar Strength

S400 vs F35 Comparison Can the S400 shoot down the F35?  | Specifications, Radar Strength

What is S-400 Defense System?

S-400 which was previously known as S-300PMU-3 is an anti-aircraft weapon system of Russia that was developed in 1990 by the Russia Almaz Central Design Bureau.

The s400 missile system has been in service since 2007. The first buyer of the S-400 missile system works was China in 2014.Russia completes delivery of second S-400 missile system regimental set to China 

The NATO calls S-400 Triumf as SA-21 Growler, which is a modern long-range surface-to-air missile (MLRSAM). The S-400 Triumf (a fourth-generation MRSAM and a successor to S-200 and S-300) is more sophisticated and effective than the American Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system. 

To create a layered defense, the S-400 Triumf can be deployed in 5 minutes and fire three types of missiles. Within an altitude of 30 km and a range of 400 km, the S-400 Triumf can engage aerial targets, aircraft, UAV's and ballistic and cruise missiles. The two sides have developed their own systems of transactions including a national currency swap for payments (due to US CAATSA-explained below). 

It has the potential to target 100 airborne targets simultaneously including the F-35 of the US. Russia has been using the S-400 Triumf since 2007 and in 2015 deployed them in Syria to guard Russian and Syrian naval and air assets. 


There are some S-400 Triumf units in the Crimean peninsula as well. China in 2015 purchased S-400 Triumf and has been using it since 2018. With the coming of S-400 Triumf, India will be able to tackle air and missile threats from Pakistan. 

What is Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II

Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is the most advanced fighter jet in the world. it is American single-seated, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft.

F-35 Specification


1. Power

F-35 is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan engine, which produces 43,000 pounds of thrust with a full afterburner. The aircraft can fly at a top speed of Mach 1.6. The jet has a combat radius of 770 miles. 

The aircraft's service ceiling is more than 50,000 feet. However, the rate of climb of the jet is classified. On the other hand, Rafale is powered by 2 after-burning turbofan engines generating 33,720 pounds of thrust combined. With the help of these engines, the jet can gain the top speed of Mach 1.8. The aircraft has a combat radius of 1,151 miles. 

2. Thrust-to-Weight ratio

The jet has a service ceiling of 50,000 feet with a rate of climb around 1000 ft/s. With smaller wings and inferior thrust-to-weight ratio, the early F-35 pilots found it nearly impossible to even engage with F-16. Since then Lockheed Martin worked with pilot straining and changed the configuration of the jet. This resulted in increased turn rate, tighter turning radius, and improved nose pointing ability at low speed. 

Cockpit of F-35
Cockpit of F-35

3. Aerodynamic

F-35 has the ability to slow down during a turn and has excellent post-stall recovery. In contrast, Rafale has lead in this category. The aircraft has 9 Gs maneuverability with a high angle of attack. Canard wings are used to improve maneuverability. The aircraft is also aerodynamically clean with two wingtip missiles. Close-coupled delta canard wings offer a significantly higher maximum lift. The fighter jet has good post-stall maneuverability as well. 

4. Stealth Capabilities

The F-35 has been designed to have a low radar cross-section with the help of aircraft shape and the use of stealthy radar absorbent materials. Stealth gives F-35 the ability to elude or greatly complicate an enemy's ability to find and destroy an aircraft using a combination of design, tactics, and technology. 

The stealth capabilities in the F-35 are unprecedented in military aviation. For perspective, F-35's radar cross-section is 0.005 to 0.3 m2, which is about the size of a golf ball. On the other hand, Rafale is not a full aspect related to aircraft. However, the jet was designed for reduced radar cross-section and infrared signature. The fighter jet has an RCS of 0.5 to 2 m2. The aircraft has reduced RCS due to its smaller tail fin, compact fuselage, engine air inlets, and extensive use of composite materials. 70% of the jet's surface area is made with composite materials. 

5. Radar and Communications 

However, many of the features designed to reduce the visibility to threats, remain classified. F-35 has the most advanced radar and communications suite built to date. It will also be the first fighter to possess a satellite-linked communications capability. F-35's advanced sensor fusion enables pilots to draw on information from all of their onboard sensors to create a single integrated picture of the battlefield. All of the information gathered is then automatically send to other pilots and the base as well. F-35 is equipped with the most advanced APG-81 radar used in any American aircraft to date. 

The radar is designed to enable F-35 pilots to track at distance over 143 mi with a locking distance of 93 miles. The aircraft is equipped with a Distributed Aperture and Electro-optical targeting system. The jet's Helmet Mounted Display System provides pilots with unprecedented situational awareness. The information is projected on the helmet's visor which includes airspeed, heading, altitude, targeting information, and warnings. 

In contrast, Rafale is equipped with passive electronically scanned multi-mode radar. Which is capable to achieve an increased level of situational awareness through earlier target detection. The radar projects real-time 3D maps for terrain-following and high-resolution ground maps for navigation and targeting. The radar can detect a range of 124 miles. To enable the jet to perform in the air supremacy role, it includes several passive sensor systems. 

S400 vs F35 Comparison

The S-400 is unanimously stated to be one of the most capable surfaces to air missile systems, in the world. So how would the US beat it? 

First and most important, in a scenario in which one F-35 goes up against one S-400 is unrealistic. An actual showdown would include up to a dozen aircraft, versus long-range, medium-range, -and short-range SAMS (surface-to-air missiles) and possibly even interceptor aircraft. Any realistic discussion on the topic would need to consider all these facts as well. 

Modern surface-to-air missile sites are typically combined with other missile sites, multiple radars, command and control posts, and nearby airbases. The combination of these elements is called: This combination of systems makes an I.A.D.S very deadly. S-400 Missile System  India - Russia  Relations | Strange Military Stories

Numerous SAMS can lay in wait, and stay hidden, and not turn on their radar, giving away its position. Meanwhile, any other radar in the network can send it targeting information, which it can then use to shoot down the threat without the aircraft even knowing it's there. Until it is too late. 

The best way to defeat a SAM system is to simply avoid it altogether. However, SAMS are typically placed strategically, to defend high-value targets that enemies would be likely to attack. There are three basic ways to eliminate and I.A.D.S. 

You can destroy the command post, (these although are typically located deeper in the enemy territory), and are usually very heavily defended. You can destroy the radars, and sensors, taking out these will "blind" the system, rendering it useless. Or you can destroy each of the weapons systems. However, there are typically several launchers, making it more difficult. 

Flying straight against the S-400 would be suicide. There are numerous tactics used to defeat air defense networks. There are anti-radiation missiles, which home in on radars, (rendering the sight blind) there is radar jamming, the use of decoys which appear on the radar screen as aircraft to confuse, and saturate the SAM, using UAVs, which can operate more aggressively, without the risk of losing a pilot, and expensive aircraft, and terrain masking. 

Which is flying close to the ground to avoid radar detection. Russia has a vast Integrated Air Defense System. (I.A.D.S), spread across the country. With approximately 45 battalions of the new S-400 system, dozens of S-300's, and other various shorter range SAMS. 

The S-400 is a very long-range surface-to-air missile system. It is the latest upgrade to the S-300 missile family. Using a new radar, and a new missile the 40N6, which has a range of up to 400 kilometers. (248.548 miles ;D ) A typical S-400 battery will be armed with several different types of missiles, to engage a large variety of targets, at various distances, and altitudes. 

Making it extremely deadly. It is designed specifically to deal with stealth, radar jamming, and low flying threats, the longer-range 40N6 missile is designed to shoot down higher altitude aircraft with lower maneuverability. Like the E-3 Sentry (AWACS), The E-8 "Joint STARS" (Surveillance Target Attack Radar System), And the RC-135 "Rivet Joint". It will be difficult for this missile to be able to destroy a more agile fighter aircraft. Even less likely for a stealth aircraft from such a distance. 

That job falls to the 9M96 and the 48N6 missiles. They have a range of 100-200 KM (62-124 miles ;D) and are extremely maneuverable. The 9M96 missile for example can sustain a 20G turn and is able to engage aircraft, and cruise missiles, As low as only 5 Meters (16 feet ;D) above the ground. 

The F-35 does not currently have any dedicated radar-jamming capability, and cannot carry anti-radiation missiles. An upgraded version of the HARM anti-radiation missile, and the MALJ, which is the radar jamming version of the MALD (decoy), are planned to be designed to fit in the F35 by the mid-2020s. For now, the F35's only stand-off ranged weapons are the JSOW (Joint Stand-off Weapon) and the Small Diameter Bomb or (SDB) Both are glide bombs. 

Meaning that their range depends on the altitude at which the aircraft is flying. If the F35 flies at an altitude of 10,000 meters it can launch these missiles at a range of about 100-125 kilometers. (62-77 miles ;D) The SDB is great because it is small, therefore more can be carried. 

A single F35 can carry eight SDB's compared to only two JSOWS. The F35 does not have the stealth needed to sneak past undetected. So they will have to attack. An attack on the S-400 would involve up to a dozen aircraft. With EA-18 "Growlers", (armed with jamming pods), and anti-radiation missiles, and F35's armed with SDB's and decoys. They would fly in low under the radar to avoid detection for as long as possible. 

The decoys would be fired in an attempt to get the enemy radars to turn on and give away their position. These radar sites would then be attacked with SDB's from the F35's, and HARM (Anti Radiation Missiles) from the EA-18's. this scenario would likely result in the destruction of the air defense sites,  but would undoubtedly come at a high cost. Flying low to the ground will reduce detection time, but this means the F35's will need to get in close to launch their bombs. This puts the aircraft well within the range of the formidable S-400, and vulnerable to smaller shorter range SAMS. 

The US could expect to lose several aircraft in such an engagement. These losses might not be acceptable to commanders in terms of loss of human life, and equipment. Therefore, might not go through with such a strike. A different scenario could involve launching Tomahawk cruise missiles at the site. Therefore, not risking losing pilots, and expensive aircraft. 

The missiles would fly in very low to the ground again to avoid detection for as long as possible. However, (once detected) the S-400 Batallion could expect to shoot down a large number of the relatively slow-flying Tomahawks. 

Therefore ensuring the destruction of an S-400 system would require dozens of missiles. Either way, eliminating the S-400 site, is possible. But it will Undoubtedly come at a great cost. Which is the purpose of air defense. To try to stop, but also try to dissuade an enemy from attacking in the first place. 

Can s400 detect stealth?

The S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) has earned the “stealth killer” tag as it has been designed to shoot down advanced combat jets like F-35s that use stealth technology to evade enemy radars.

S-400 Missile Deal with India

In 2018, India and Russia signed a USD 5 billion deal (with no sovereign guarantee [a sovereign guarantee ns that the company that won the contract has to by law provide a guarantee from an international bank which can be encashed by the purchaser of the product in case delivery of the product does not happen on time despite the payments being made] but as a government-to-government deal) where India will purchase Russian Triumf-400 (five units) long-range surface-to-air missile system. 

India has decided to purchase a missile defense system that will shield any incoming ballistic missile directed towards the soil of India.


Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA)

However, in 2007, the US President signed Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA). The legislation was for Russia, Iran, and North Korea. As per the Title II of the act, because of Russia's intervention in Ukraine and meddling in US Presidential elections in 2016 any dealings by any state with the Russian gas, defense, and security industry will invite sanctions. 

Section 235 of the act talks about 12 sanctions that can be imposed upon persons engaging in significant transactions (39 Russian entities identified by the US State Department, which includes space defense cooperation JSC, the manufacturer of S-400 Triumf) with the defense and intelligence of Russia. Section 231 gives powers to the US President to invoke 5 out of the 12 sanctions in section 235. However, India, Indonesia, and Vietnam were granted a waiver under CAATSA, which conveys that India retained its strategic autonomy. 

More SO, India has this understanding that it needs to balance its relations with the US and Russia. India needs Russia because it is endowed with natural resources and military technologies fruitful for Indian development and security. 

More importantly, based on India's past diplomatic engagement, Russia is more inclined to align to the interests of India in South Asia than the US. India also knows that as the US tries to withdraw from Afghanistan, it will need Russia more in Afghanistan (and beyond in Eurasia) than anyone else. 

More so, today, Russia is more crucial for us as it is more than willing to share those technologies that the US is not willing to share, like nuclear-powered submarines.

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