China: No S-400s For Beijing

Russiahas refused to sell S-400 Triumf (NATO reporting name ‘SA-21 Growler’) Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) batteries to China.

The decision, which was reported in late May, is said to reflect concerns in Moscow that the medium-to-high altitude SAM system could be copied by Chinese engineers and sold to third countries.

The S-400 system has a range of between 120-400km (64-215nm) depending on the type of missiles it deployeds.

The advent of the S-400 would have represented a significant qualitative increase in Chinese ground-based air defence capabilities. The country is known to possess S-300PMU/PMU-1/PMU-2 (NATO reporting name ‘SA-20 Gargoyle’) SAM batteries, of which the People’s Liberation Army Air Force is thought to operate a total of 24 deployed across six regiments. These are supplemented by the indigenously-developed HQ-9 version of the S-300.

The S-300PMU has an engagement range of circa 150km (81nm), the S-300PMU-1 offers an engagement range of up to 120km, depending on the missile it employs, with the S-300PMU-2 extending this range to 195km (105nm). The HQ-9, meanwhile, is said to be capable of achieving a range of up to 200km (107nm). These missile batteries are thought to be deployed mainly in Fujian province on China’s southeast coast directly opposite Taiwan.

Any acquisition of S-400 batteries by China would have given the Taiwanese air force great cause for concern regarding the improvement in ground-to-air defence capabilities that this would have afforded to the PLAAF. Although Moscow’s decision seems to rule out any S-400 exports to China for now, there is no guarantee that Russia may not change its mind in the future and authorise such exports.

Published by Thomas Withington

Thomas Withington is a writer and analyst specialising in electronic warfare, radar and military communications.

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