Two recent events significantly increase the effectiveness of what is already the world's most capable air defense network. Simply put, the strong are getting stronger.
On 28 June, Ria Novosti
reported that the new missile for the S-400 passed state trials, and would soon be delivered to operational S-400 batteries. Whether this is the rumored 40N6 or not is up for debate, as is the actual genesis of the 40N6, but the classification of the new weapon as "long range" seems to indicate that the S-400 will soon have it's full design range capability of 400 kilometers at its disposal. The "long-range" classification also appears to eliminate a 9M96 variant from consideration, a weapon long associated with the S-400 complex.
While mention of the potential 40N6 deployment has appeared in various sources, an earlier announcement seems to have largely been ignored. In January, reports stated
that S-300PM batteries had completed upgrades to Favorit-S standard. This increases the maximum engagement range of the system from 150 to 200 kilometers, by incorporating the newer 48N6D missile. Although still short of the S-400's 250 kilometer range against most non-cooperative targets with the 48N6DM, the Favorit-S represents a solid increase in system effectiveness, blostered by the introduction of newer electronic components.
As the new S-400 continues to enter service, modernized Favorit-S systems present three possibilities. First, they can be used as gap-fillers, backing up S-400 batteries uploaded with the longer-range 40N6. This represents a useful role, given that the 40N6 likely possesses a reduced capability at range to engage non-cooperative targets. Additionally, modernized Favorit-S batteries displaced by the introduction of S-400 units can be redeployed around Russia as replacements for older S-300PT and S-300PS batteries. Lastly, Favorit-S batteries, displaced by S-400 batteries and not required elsewhere in the nation, could potentially represent a viable export target for a nation lacking the resources to acquire the more expensive S-400 but requiring an air defense upgrade. As such they could also be passed on to states such as Kazakhstan or Belarus as replacements for extant S-300PS and S-300PMU systems while awaiting delivery of S-400 batteries.
Regardless of the details, one thing is clear: the Russian air defense network is becoming increasingly potent.
Users of the SAM Site Overview file will see these changes reflected during the next update. S-300PM range rings will be altered to reflect a 200 kilometer range, and separate 400 kilometer range rings will be added for the S-400 to denote it's two-missile selection.