Foreign Policy Blogs

The Dangers of a Future Mission

Russian-made S-400 air defense systems. (Photo: Sergey Malgavko/Sputnik)

A few short weeks ago, a shipment of S-400 missiles from Russia to China were lost at sea. While the shipment was replaced and likely covered by some type of insurance, the notable issue should be that S-400 missiles are now being exported outside of Russia. The export of the older S-300 system was always an issue in the West with regards many countries, including Iran. The S-300 was held from being exported from Russia to Iran due to sanctions against Iran for many years. The S-300 were only placed in Syria recently for political reasons following an incident where a Russian IL-20 crew was lost to an S-200 missile because of a misidentification by Syrian forces. While the S-300 is seen as a significant threat to opposing aircraft and missiles, the S-400 was considered a system that would likely only be encountered within Russian territory and is state of the art.

It will likely be the case that the S-400 will become more common in countries that may not share American or European policy approaches. It has even been ordered by NATO allies like Turkey who would normally choose Western equipment, and India that possesses a defense approach with systems from the West and from Russia. Missions like those that could possibly be proposed against Venezuela may not be able to take shape without some expected losses to the S-400 systems. With the S-500 covertly being used in Russia, it is now the case that systems considered part of a future defense structure will be a current threat in the active modern battlefield.

While technology is eventually
defeated, modern air forces must consider scenarios now with the
S-400 challenging their soldiers in the air for many years to come
before an effective solution is developed. Using older equipment will
likely make any pilot an initial target for the S-400 and make any
action against an S-400 protected target extremely dangerous.
Missions may need to be cancelled if an air arm does not possess the
right equipment to keep their pilots safe, and pilots themselves may
choose to refuse orders if a country does not equip them with
reasonably effective airplanes for future missions. Surface to Air
missiles often change the politics around an issue, with the S-400,
politics will have to adapt to future aggressors and conflicts.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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