The S400 system comes with powerful radar and has anti-jamming capabilities. It is able to create a multi-layer air defense structure with three guided missiles of different ranges as well as tracking hundreds of targets and attacking up to 36 of them at once.
The system could affect regional security if China bought the system and planted it within range of the disputed Diaoyutai island (Diaoyu or Senkaku), said Paul Schwartz, a researcher for the Center for Strategic & International Studies' Russian and Eurasia Program.
Negotiations between China and Russia over the system have been difficult since China has different needs for its air defense, said military commentator Du Wenlong. The system's operational height and range, the range of its radar and the number of targets the radar tracks will all need to be adjusted. Du said the sale will not be simple weapons trade but a technology transfer that could enhance China's air defense and anti-missile capability as a whole in the future.
Unlike the system's predecessor S300, S400 is compatible with weapons made by other countries and sports superior performance. The system can hit a target 10m to 60km above ground and intercept a ballistic missile from 30km away. Its life span has also greatly improved to 20 years.
With the S400 system and the existing surface-to-air guided missiles Hongqi-9, S300 and the advanced version of S300, China will be able to build an air defense system covering long, medium and short distances, said Du. The country will also be able to integrate the system with anti-guided missile systems. The chance of intercepting high-precision guided weapons such as guided missiles is likely to increase significantly in the future, also expanding the types of targets that China could intercept, said the commentator.
Song said America's Asia Pivot policy will be severely impacted if China obtains the S400 system. The S400 could cover the airspace over Taiwan and or even its eastern coasts and counter-attack US aircrafts coming from Guam and Okinawa if the system was deployed on the coastal regions of the East China Sea. Du said Russian experts reveal the system's sales to media deliberately in order to demonstrate it still has the ability to make the US uncomfortable.