Chinese military commentators said China may become the first foreign buyer of Russia's S-400 surface-to-air missile system, which could help the country integrate its air defense and anti-missile systems, reports Chinese national broadcaster CCTV.
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.
America's Asia Pivot policy would be severely impacted if China obtains the S-400 system, as it could cover the airspace over Taiwan and or even its eastern coasts and counter-attack US aircrafts coming from Guam and Okinawa: The system comes with powerful radar and has anti-jamming capabilities, becoming 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 S400 could affect regional security if China buys the system and decides to plant it within range of the disputed Diaoyutai island", said Paul Schwartz, a researcher for the Center for Strategic & International Studies' Russian and Eurasia Program.
Unlike the system's predecessor S-300, S-400 is compatible with weapons made by other countries and sports superior performance. The system can hit a target 10 m to 60 km above ground and intercept a ballistic missile from 30 km away. Its life span has also greatly improved to 20 years. With the S-400 system and the existing surface-to-air guided missiles Hongqi-9, S-300 and the advanced version of S-300, 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.