Currently the US is frustrated and trying to somehow curb the success of the S-400 anti-aircraft systems. The former US empire, being reduced now to simply one of several competing world powers, is unable totally powerless to respond to the global appeal of the Russian anti-air systems. This is due, in large part, to the US’s over-reliance on its Air-Force. To understand the dynamics at play, it is necessary to analyze some key points of the issue.
The US intention is only one, to curb the purchases of the Russian system, this is what the US Congressmen themselves and US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert reiterated.
The situation further worsened when the first contracts with China, India, Turkey and Saudi Arabia emerged. After buying the S-400 for these countries, the US found in the sanctions an attempt to stop the S-400. Nauert said that the US “has already made it clear that they could implement sanctions against other countries and institutions” that planned to buy the Russian system, as stated by Military Watch magazine.
But countries have shown a disinterest in forgoing their ability to protect themselves from foreign military attack, and with the possible exception of India at the present moment, appear unwilling to buckle under the threat of sanctions. Turkey now is in an open fight with the US in the WTO over these, and related, matters.
The fact is that the US is losing the war market and its supremacy. An example of this is the fact that China and India have long diversified their suppliers and do not buy weapons exclusively from the USA. In addition, other traditional partners of the US are interested in the Russian system, which in this case is Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Speaking of air supremacy, not only the American one, but also the European one, would be threatened if the forces of the Middle East could, in fact, have more modern defenses. Thus, it is possible to note that the propagation of powerful anti-aircraft systems, such as the S-400, would directly affect the interests of Western countries, as this spread would cause a great change in the balance of power in different parts of the world.
At the same time, the S-300, and even upgraded S-200’s, sometimes referred to casually as S-250’s, are quite effective against even state-of-the-art fighters, bombers, and multi-role aircraft. The difference between the upgraded S-200 and the S-400’s are the range ceiling (S-400’s can be used to target objects in near-earth orbit, aka ‘space’), and the number of targets that can be struck simultaneously. However, with regard to the second concern, deploying a number of S-200’s accomplishes the same as a single S-400 unit.
The S-200 already protects Syria, and unless rendered ineffective by an over-running assault by ground-forces, remains a very useful anti-air system, with a target-hit ratio between 70% and 99%. That means that between 3/4ths and 4/4ths of targets will be hit on the first launch, per missile. Given that this was 1960’s technology, the lastest generation S-400 is highly problematic for imperial powers.
The S-200 through S-400 family of SAM’s has been a global game-changer. Contrary to imperial propaganda, many countries use this system, have them in quantity, and it is this, and not the ‘good will’ of the US empire, that has relegated the US to striking almost solely, tremendously impoverished and under equipped countries. Or, they must launch or simulate a successful ground campaign, as with the Iraq war of 2003, or in the Syrian conflict, where the US deployed ‘jihadist’ proxies to attack installations hosting Syria’s S-200’s.
Given the efficacy of the S-200 against even 4th generation fighters, bombers, and multi-role craft, the total panic the US military faces over the prospect of an increasingly universalized S-400 system is to be expected.
It represents a continuation of the shift of strategy and military doctrine, just as the large naval ship has increasingly been rendered obsolete, so too has the air-force. Being lost now is the prevailing mythology over the dominance of these doctrines, the over-reliance on navy and air-force, in modern times which favors ground forces and mobile ground units (cars, tanks, etc.)
Another important detail that cannot be ignored is the economic impact. This is related to the S-400’s demand, because the higher the demand, the higher the profitability and the lower the cost for Russia and the foreign partners.
So the frustration of the US involves three aspects: the economic impact, the difficulty they will face if armies from other countries use the S-400 and the technological insult, since Washington has nothing comparable to the Russian S-400.