S-400 Triumf


The S-400 Triumf, NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler, is a mobile, surface-to-air missile system (SAM) designed by Russia. It is capable of engaging aircraft, UAVs, cruise missiles, and has a terminal ballistic missile defense capability. It represents the fourth generation of long-range Russian SAMs, and the successor to the S-200 and S-300. The S-400’s mission set and capabilities are roughly comparable to the U.S. Patriot system. Unlike some Patriot interceptors today, however, the S-400 does not currently employ hit-to-kill ballistic missile defense technology. Russia is however developing a new interceptor, the 77N6, which is believed to employ hit to kill technology.

S-400 at a Glance

Originated from: Russia
Possessed by: Russia
Class: Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM)
Basing: Mobile, ground-based
Warhead: 143 kg high-explosive fragmentation (48N6), hit-to-kill (77N6)
Range: 250-400 km, 60 km (ABM)
Status: Operational
In Service: 2007-Present


S-400 Development

Development of the S-400 began in 1993. Budget restrictions following the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, limited Russia’s ability to design an entirely new system. Between 70-80% of the technology employed by the initial S-400 design was taken and adapted from the S-300, including missile storage containers, launchers, and radars. The S-400 launchers were also designed to be compatible with S-300 interceptor variants.1 Testing on the system began in late 1999 or early 2000 at Russia’s Kasputin Yar missile range.2

Service History

The first S-400 systems became operational in 2007 and entered service with the First Air Defense Corps responsible for defending Moscow.3

Since becoming operational, the system has seen several high-profile deployments, augmenting S-300 capabilities already operational in several key areas. Notably, S-400 units are currently stationed in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, where it defends Russia’s significant military presence from aerial attack.4 Besides Kaliningrad, the system was also deployed to Tartus, Syria in 2015, to guard Russian and Syrian naval and air assets.5

Russia has also stationed S-400 units in Crimea to strengthen Russia’s position on the recently-annexed peninsula.6

In addition to being deployed by Russian forces, the system is also currently being marketed to other countries. In 2015, China signed an agreement with Russia to purchase six battalions of the system. In 2016, India likewise contracted to purchase five battalions.7


The S-400 primarily uses the 48N6 missile series. These missiles allow it to hit aerial targets at ranges up to 250 km and are capable of intercepting ballistic missiles across a 60 km radius, using in both cases a 143 kg high explosive fragmentation warhead.8

Another missile series, the 77N6, is currently in testing. Unlike other Russian SAMs, the 77N6 missiles will use hit-to-kill technology (as do PAC-3 missiles) and are designed specifically to destroy ballistic missile warheads.9

The final missile series used by the S-400 is the 40N6, a long range family that can extend the air defense capabilities of the system to 400 km.10 The current deployment status of the 40N6 missile is unclear, and questions remain as to whether the S-400’s radar capabilities would allow the 40N6 make full use of its maximum range.

See a visualization of Russian S-400 deployments on the interactive map, The Russia-NATO A2AD Environment.

    1. Christopher F. Foss, “S-400,” in Jane’s Land Warfare Platforms: Artillery and Air Defense, (London: IHS Global, 2016), 577.
    2. Ibid, 579.
    3. UPI, “S400 Missile System Ready to Defend Moscow,” May 23, 2007, http://www.spacewar.com/reports/S400_Missile_System_Ready_To_Defend_Moscow_999.html.
    4. Reuters, “Russia rejects U.S. criticism of Kaliningrad missile deployment,” November 22, 2016, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-missiles-kaliningrad-usa-idUSKBN13H1QF.
    5. BBC, “Russia S-400 Syria missile deployment sends robust signal,” December 1, 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34976537.
    6. National Interest, “Russia’s Scary S-400 Air Defense System Is Now Protecting the Skies Above Crimea,” January 14, 2017, http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/russias-scary-s-400-air-defense-system-now-protecting-the-19070.
    7. The Economic Times, “Russian S-400 Triumff gives India the edge against Pakistan, China,” October 17, 2016, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/russian-s-400-gives-india-an-edge-against-pakistan-china/articleshow/54893457.cms.
    8. Foss, 578.
    9. Ibid, 578.
    10. Ibid, 578.