Patriot vs. S-400: Determining the Ultimate Defense System

Patriot vs. S-400

In this Patriot vs. S-400 comparison, we will compare the performance, cost, radars, and missiles of two highly advanced air defense systems: the Patriot system developed by Raytheon for the United States and the S-400 system developed by Russia. We will explore how these systems work and determine which one is more effective in intercepting and neutralizing a wide range of aerial threats.

Patriot vs. S-400

Patriot Components: The Patriot system consists of several components working together to achieve its objectives. The system includes:

  • A radar set.
  • An engagement control station.
  • A launcher station.
  • An antenna mass group.
  • Interceptor missiles.

The radar detects and tracks targets, aiding the missiles in hitting their intended targets accurately. The engagement control station calculates trajectories and controls the launch sequence, while the launcher stations hold and launch the missiles.

 The antenna mass group acts as the main communication backbone for the entire unit. The Patriot system is armed with various missiles capable of destroying different types of aerial threats.

S-400 Components: The S-400 Triumph system, an upgrade to the S-300 family, is designed to neutralize tactical and intermediate-range aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles. The S-400 system consists of different components that work together seamlessly.

Patriot vs. S-400: Determining the Ultimate Defense System
Russian missile S-400.

 It includes a launch vehicle for carrying the missiles, a command and control post mounted on the vehicle, and a set of radars with varied ranges to intercept targets from multiple directions at high altitudes.

Radar Comparison: The Patriot system is equipped with a passive electronically scanned array radar that can counter attempts to jam electronic signals. Its radar is a detection-to-kill system, meaning a single unit performs all search, identification, track, and engagement functions. 

The Patriot radar, mounted on a trailer, consists of over 5000 elements and can track up to 100 targets within a range of 93 miles. It emits a highly agile narrow beam, enabling it to detect small, fast-moving targets with low radar cross-section.

In contrast, the S-400 system combines radars with varied ranges. The 96L6E radar can detect and track low-flying cruise missiles and fighter jets within 186 miles. The Gravestone radar can detect and track ballistic missiles and stealth aircraft within a range of 249 miles. The Big Bird acquisition radar can simultaneously locate and identify 300 targets within a distance of 373 miles. The S-400 radar system offers a superior range and capabilities compared to the Patriot system.

Missile Comparison: The Patriot system is armed with a variety of missiles, each with its own capabilities. The PAC-2 variant can intercept and destroy aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles using proximity fusing mechanisms. 

The PAC-3 missiles are optimized for intercepting and destroying incoming objects through a hit-to-kill technology, making them effective against advanced ballistic missiles with countermeasures. The Patriot system achieves an 80 to 90 percent success rate by using both variants in tandem.

Patriot vs. S-400: Determining the Ultimate Defense System

On the other hand, the S-400 system is equipped with a variety of missiles for different engagement ranges. The 40N6E missile is used for long-range engagements, with a claimed range of 249 miles and a speed of 2,700 miles per hour. 

The 48N6DM missile targets within a distance of 155 miles, while the NM-96 missile engages highly maneuverable fighter jets within 75 miles. The 9M96E missile is used for shorter-range engagements, capable of destroying airborne targets within 25 miles. The S-400 claims a success rate of 98 percent.

System Operation: The Patriot system detects and gathers information about a target using its radar, which operators then assess in a command center to determine if the object is hostile. Once authorized for engagement, the Patriot launcher fires two missiles in a ripple 4.2 seconds apart to destroy the incoming objects.

On the other hand, the S-400 system identifies a target using suitable radars and passes the information to the command and control center. The center determines whether the target is friendly or hostile and chooses to engage it. With the help of the engagement radar, a suitable missile is launched to neutralize the threat.

Cost Comparison: The cost of the Patriot air defense system can vary depending on the configuration and quantity of equipment. While exact figures are not publicly disclosed, estimates suggest that a single battery of the Patriot system costs about $1.1 billion. This includes $400 million for the system itself and $700 million for the missiles. Additional costs are associated with training, logistics, and maintenance.

Similarly, the price of the S-400 missile system depends on the specific features and components included. Various sources estimate the cost of an S-400 system to range between $500 million to $700 million. This price includes the launchers, missiles, associated equipment, and training and maintenance expenses.

Conclusion: The S-400 system boasts a longer range and the ability to engage a wider range of high-value targets. It also offers a variety of missiles designed to effectively counter different types of airborne threats, achieving a high success rate. 

On the other hand, the Patriot system is known for its effectiveness against tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles. It is often used with other systems like Aegis and THAAD, allowing for engagement in space.

Ultimately, determining the superior air defense system, whether the Patriot or the S-400, depends on the specific requirements and objectives of the defense forces. Each system has its strengths and capabilities, and their effectiveness can vary in different scenarios and against different threats.