S-300P/S 400 and S-300V Missile System
The Almaz S-300P/S-400 (SA-10, SA-20) and Antey S-300V (SA-12) SAM systems are excellent examples, the former widely acknowledged to be ‘Russia’s Patriot’ and the latter having no direct equivalents in the west, but some similarities to Israel’s Arrow Anti-Ballistic Missile system. Both of these systems grew out of the disappointments of Vietnam and the Yom Kippur war, where ‘single digit’ S-75/SA-2, S-125/SA-3 and 3M9/SA-6 series SAMs were soundly defeated in combat by the US and Israelis respectively. Designed for the high density battlespace of late Cold War central Europe, the S-300P and S-300V series of SAMs represent the pinnacle of Soviet Cold War era SAM technology, with no effort spared to push the technological envelope.
The S-300P Missile series and S-300V Missile would have required unusually intense defence suppression efforts, changing the character and duration of both air campaigns. The political fracas surrounding the Cypriot order for S-300PMU1, and the long standing intent of both North Korea and Iran to purchase large numbers of late model S-300Ps underscore this point.
In US terminology, the ‘double digit’ S-300P Missile series and S-300V Missile systems represent ‘anti-access capabilities’ – designed to make it unusually difficult if not impossible to project air power into defended airspace. The B-2A Spirit and F/A-22A Raptor were both developed with these threat systems in mind, and are still considered to be the only US systems capable of robustly defeating these weapons. The technique for defeating them is a combination of wideband all aspect stealth and highly sensitive radio frequency ESM receivers, combined with offboard sources of near realtime Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance
(ISR) data on system locations.
Aircraft with no stealth, reduced RCS capabilities, or limited aspect stealth, such as the F-15E, F-16C, F/A-18E/F, Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 JSF are all presented with the reality that high to medium altitude penetration incurs a very high risk of engagement by either of these weapon systems.
That the DoD leadership have opted to wholly ignore the arrival of the S-300P/S-300V series SAMs in their long term force structure planning is nothing less than remarkable and raises some very serious questions about how well the capabilities of these systems are understood in the halls of Russell Offices. Despite repeated proposals by a great many parties, there are no plans to equip the RAAF with anti-radiation missiles or support jamming aircraft, persistent lobbying for F-111 retirement, and the F/A-22A Raptor, the US solution to the S-300P/S-300V Missile problem, is generally dismissed as being “too good for Australia”.
A package of S-300P/S-300V batteries could be operationally viable within months of deployment in the region, and earlier if contract Russian or Ukrainian personnel are hired to bring them online faster. The notion of ‘15 years warning time’ looks a little absurd, given that these systems can proliferate and operationally mature as capabilities within one to two years.