Greek Media obsessed with Turkey’s S-400 SAM deal

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The aqcuisition of 4 S-400 Battalions for the needs of the TuAF is a big game changer in the Greek-Turkey arms race

The latest month initial rumours about a realistic Turkish S-400 deal became almost a certainty. A few days ago, President of Turkey, Reztep Tayip Erdogan confirmed that the first payment of the 2.5 billion dollar deal have been deposited to the Russians. Official reports have not disclosed any details yet, but according to Turkish media, this deal included the acquisition of 4xS-400 battalions along with a double payload of missiles and technology transfer. The latter will help Turkey integrate the S-400 Hi-SAM into their national Integrated Air Defence System. ASESLAN would probably be one of the key local contributors. This company has a vast amount of experience in military RF equipment and electronics.

Even if Turkey wanted to manufacture some parts of the S-400 systems locally, this was denied from the Russian side. All missile batteries will be manufactured in Russia and be delivered in a 2-year period. It is not known yet if the 48N6E3 EDM missile (250 km range) or the 400 km 40N6 missile will be the main armament of those SAMs. Neither if anti-ballistic 9M96 (can be quad packed, range 120 km) with high Pk missiles will be part of the deal.Greek Defence Minister asked for help from the NATO members to contribute with effective solutions to counter the S-400 threat.

 

There was  quite a debate  inside the NATO armed forces if Turkey’s desire to procure the Russian system is a threat to the NATO communication protocols. After many debates and pressure towards Turkey, any NATO Radio and Telecommunication Equipment (Turkey or Allied owned) which is operating in Turkey is forbidden to be integrated with the S-400. With this decision it is ensured that no classified information would be revealed to Russian Technical staff who will be supporting the S-400 (at least during the first years).

Of course like with the Iran’s procurement of S-300s, it cannot be excluded that Diplomatic Pressure (maybe in conjunction with counterweight deal with the Russian side) from a country like the United States could delay for several years the delivery of these systems in the future.

But let’s have a look why are the S-400 missiles feared so much…Why it is a constant debate whether a country (Iran, China, Syria or Turkey) can procure this high-end Air-Defence System?

Some key features of the S-400:

  • Simultaneusly engage 36 missiles, providing mid-course guidance to 72 of them
  • The radar 91N2E can track 300 targets (export version can track 100)
  • Reportedly detection range against Stealth targets 150 km
  • Can be integrated with NEBO VHF/HF/L band radar. This could be of great importance regarding the tracking of Stealth Targets such as the F-35A JSF
  • Volume search can be done by the 400 km range 96L6 radar
  • 40N6 has an active seeker capable of engaging with great accuracy during the terminal phase.
  • 9M96E1 and 9M96E2 missiles are available for self defense and increasing the payload. These missiles have far better Pk (0.8-0.9) against targets such as cruise and high-Mach ballistic missiles. Can be quad-packed. Each canister of the original 48N6 can be replaced with 4 9M96 missiles. A typical loadout includes 3x48N6 and 4x9M96.
  • Low probability of Intercept
  • Extremely resistant to jamming
  • NATO IFF compatible (according to the manufacturer, NATO IFF can be integrated)
https://i0.wp.com/www.ausairpower.net/PVO-S/5P85SE-9M96E2-Quad-Launcher-MAKS-MiroslavGyurosi-1S.jpg

9M96 missiles can be quad packed enhancing a battalion’s total firepower

 

For a more detailed article regarding the S-400 capabilities read the following:

S-300: Protecting the Aegean Sea (article in Greek)

Greek Media going Frenzy

Every week since August various articles have been published regarding the future game changing turkish S-400 Hi-SAM operating against Hellenic Airforce. The problem have been recognized both by the Political Leadership (all political parties have been informed) and the HAF General Staff. In some cases dystopian conclusions have been drawn.

Greek Television news agency are warning every day about the S-400 deal. Greek Defence Minister warned that we must acquire additional military equipment to counter this threat. But due to budget constraints he asked for the help of the NATO partners. Of course this is unrealistic because Turkey is also a part of NATO which tries to hold a neutral side. France supported Turkey on this subject.

The possible location of the S-400 operating in Turkish soil may be seen below.

s-400 possible locations.png

The red circles represent the deadly range of the 40N6 missile. Keep in mind that they are located at least 150 km away from the Greek Islands. All the Aegean along with any passage towards supporting Cyprus are covered. A fourth battalion might be located in the East having an ABM role.

It can be separated in 3 Areas:

-Aegean Sea: The 400 km range of the Mach 7 (!) 40N6 missile creates an Access Denial zone for the Greek aircrafts trying to defend their Homeland-Aegean. Even if at distances near maximum range there might be evasion techniques to avoid incoming missiles, the Anti-Aircraft Umbrella deployed over most of the Greek Islands like Rhodes or Chios is dangerously alarming. The high casualties that Hellenic Airforce might suffer conducting CAS missions or Air Patrols over a target island that might be invaded creates an extremely hostile environment

-Cyprus: Even today with the latest F-16 Block 52+ equipped with Conformal Fuel Tanks, Cyprus is 400 km away from Crete. That means that Greek aircraft can stay for limited period of time defending the airspace over Cyprus. The lack of obstacles around the island makes it an ideal place for the Turkish side to position an S-400 battery. Even low flying aircrafts can be effectively engaged and shot down. In any attempt of an aircaft to overpass the denied area from the South , it will result in burning most of the fuel needed for the mission. The lack of Air Tanker in the Greek HAF is more important than ever.

-Turkish-Syrian Borders: The Instability in the Eastern Border with Syria and Iran requires at least one battery to be positioned near Incirlik. That battery would have a main Anti-Ballistic Role. This battery might be equipped with 9M96 missiles.

Note: Each battery consists of 8 launchers. Each launcher carries 4x40N6 missiles. That means that in the Aegean Sea 64 missiles would be ready to launch anytime. Having a moderate realistic Pk of 60% this would result in loosing almost 39 aircraft with a single blow. This corresponds to almost 25% of the HAF aircraft inventory…

In conclusion, the procurement of such an advanced system greatly changes the military balance in the area. The lack of Offensive Electronic Warfare Equipment (like the AN/ALQ-99 pods) may be critical along with the absence of Air-Tankers for defensive missions in Cyprus. With this deal Turkey is bringing an ACE system in the Aegean Sea.

The Greek Side is cornered but not without hope…

The Scalp-EG cruise missiles can be used to saturate the S-400 Air Defense. As analyzed in Simulating the Tomahawk Missile Attack in Syria, a saturated attack by a low-flying packet of 59 missiles cannot be stopped by a single S-400 battery. But this would require flying in very low altitude and releasing a massive payload. Having in mind that the only aircraft capable of carrying is the Mirage 2000-5 mk2 of which 25 are in the Greek Inventory, a single mission to take off an S-400 battery would require almost all of the modernized Mirage aircraft. The big range of the Scalp-EG (more than 300 km, rumours say that can be 650 km) could make possible the launch from a safe location.

Also Greece has almost 120 SCALP-EG missiles in the HAF inventory.

The limiting factor here is the number of aircraft that can carry those missiles. If HAF can somehow increase that number it would be a great counter-weight to the S-400 threat. The easier way for HAF to supplement these numbers is the acquisition of used Mirage 2000-5 from other countries like the UAE (identical aircraft with Mk2 except the self-protection system) or Qatar (-5EDA capable of carrying Black Saheen which is a downgraded version of the SCALP-EG).

PS. Some Greek Defence Sites underestimate the S-400 capabilities due to the experience that the Greek Airforce had with the S-300PMU-1. This is rather misleading because a system which had never reached 100% Operation Capability (under Greek Service) due to the lack of Follow On Support Deal would not operate at its full potential. Also S-300 PMU-1 is a system developed in the early 90s. S-400 missile System is deployed nowadays. Almost a quarter of Century of evolution…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 thoughts on “Greek Media obsessed with Turkey’s S-400 SAM deal

  1. Three varying options were presented of the missile system but in reality only one makes sense for both Turkey and Russia. The 400 km is out of the question it’s range is too important as it can be used to negate any Russian action it is wishes to do so. The anti ballistic option is also a no deal Russia will not give the technology to Turkey not is Turkey in need of such a system . This leaves only one option with a range of 250 km very similar to the Hellenic S300 that if upgraded will almost likely will be brought to the low end S400 standards. Furthermore Russia would not release any technology to a NATO country with a full capability of stealth target detect and acquire and vector defense measures against it. It would be a suicide on their part. In sort Turkey us getting a similar and upgraded version of what Hellas has already, the difference being the position of the batteries system at the Aegean as opposed to the island of Krete. France and the rest of NATO know these therefore the reaction us lukewarm instead of outright caustic response.

    Since Hellas has the S300 system over some time now, and furthermore since there have been combined exercises with Israel who’s interest is against Iran they know how to overcome most if not all of its attributes. To be sure if the system is fielded near the coast live it self becomes an easier and primary target. Therefore it will be fielded further inland.

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  2. I highly doubt that the Russians wouldn’t try to sell them a downgraded yet near 400 km range of the 40N6 missile. Every customer that have ordered (India, Algeria, China, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Vietnam) this system haven’t been denied such a capability. It would be difficult for this deal to backfire to the Russian side because if you have built the system you may have left some backdoors to jam effectively the system if needed. Greece lacks OECW aircraft and also stand-off missiles for its main fleet of F-16s. JASSM hasn’t been authorized for export to us (not even for South Korea which uses Taurus/KEPD 350)

    Only countries that are positioned in the frontiline against Russia like Finland or Poland will acquire such a weapon.
    Also I disagree that Turkey doesn’t want its system to have ABM capabilities. Turkeys diplomatic ties with Iran, Syria and Israel are from unfriendly to near hostile from time to time. That is why NATO Patriot SAM batteries are positioned currently near Incirlik

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  3. A 400 km system placed in the north covers the Black Sea thus limiting any movement of Russia in the area. Also just because a system is advertised as such it does not mean that the targeting capability is there. In other words one could scan the skies but actually targeting is a different story. The Patriot batteries are stationed there near Incirlik to protect the base i.e NATO USA assets first. The issues of Turkey with Iran and Syria pass through Moscow. Russia is somewhat strapped for cash flow thus it sells just about anything.

    In any event the S400 good as it may be in all its versions still has limitations even due to the Earth’s curvature. Therefore it is suplemented by low very low altitude systems pantzir to close the holes. A saturation attack can do the job to destroy radars first. Hellas can effectively counter this threat. I consider the stealth threat higher where a solution is needed. The combination of stealth F-35’s and S400 is the issue.

    I don’t see how Ellas can purchase F-35’s whose whole sections have been manufactured in Turkey and for which any engine maintenance will have to be done in Turkey. This is a joke. The solution is arming a triad for land attacks as any decent country does air Force navy (including subs) and army with long range land attack capability.
    I don’t see why Ellas does not develop a low cost stealth attack system with COTS technologies to saturate defences.

    Anyway we will see soon the system in Turkey as it is being deployed.

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  4. If we assume that the S-400 radar is placed at an altitude of 500m and a Greek F-16 is flying at an altitude of 10,000 ft then (using simple equations) the S-400 will be able to see the F-16 at a maximum range of 320km. Even if the radar was placed at an altitude of 1000m the maximum range would still be 360km, always assuming no obstacles in the line of sight and that the radar is capable of tracking the F-16 at such a distance.

    Given a fast moving target such as a fighter jet which can travel 20km in 1 minute I do not think that the S-400 practical range will exceed 250km even if the 40N6 missile is used

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  5. Hello kkalev
    Your observations are correct but a greek F-16s flying in 10000 feet will have very shorter range and less flying time to perform deep strikes or Air patrol. One more thing is that it gains a great disadvantage in kinetic energy against a high flying turkish F-16 performing CAP. Our EMB-145 AEW&C assets are in high danger because they are simply civillian aircafts with limited maneuverability. In case they fly lower than 30-36k feet their radar will have a smaller range negating its effects as force multiplier. So we will have to keep them flying west of Athens (!)

    Flying low still doens;t mean that you can approach the S-400 safely. Our limited range of the Harm missile will be not enough to get close for the kill. Still only SCALP-EG can do the job with limitations as explained previously

    As for 40N6 there is a factor not high-lightened correctly. It will have active seeker terminal guidance meaning that except mid-course guidance which requires not that precise targeting info the missile relies in its AESA active seeker. Along with its Mach 7 speed it will have a high Pk even in ranges of hundred of miles. Same thing stands for the American naval SM-6 missile

    @Thegnostos
    You are correct about Earth’s curvature but still the Turks wouldn’t focus on hitting any combat airplane in this range. Even with the 48N6E3 they will isolate a 100-150 km area inside the Greek National Airspace. They will focus on denying the airspace above Greek Islands. And this is quite critical because even low flying Chinook helicopters could fail to approach due to an elevated position from the S-400 batteries and lack of obstacles due to the open Aegean Sea. Think of it also that greek ASW helicopters will be also unable to find Turkish subs lurking in littoral waters near Samos or even Ikaria.

    @kkalev and Thegnostos
    Of course there are solutions to counter this threat. These could include aircraft height leveraging, massive launch of cruise missiles, Offensive Electronic Warfare Pods like ALQ-99 (not integrated yet with F-16 but with F-18 platform), Decoys like MALD (USA) or TALD(Israel) and even suicide UAVs like Harop. The thing is that our budget is really constrained. Current forces (only HARM and SCALP that could be launched from only 20-25 max aircrafts) will have a hard time destroying the S-400 batteries which if used correctly by TuAF could give them the advantage at least during the first two days of a crisis or warfare.

    PS Really enjoying this fact-base discussion !

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  6. Παράθεμα: Greek Media obsessed with Turkey’s S-400 SAM deal – Προέλαση

  7. The EMB-145 AEW&C face a much larger threat from the upgraded Turkish F-16s. A Turkish F-16 can travel 100km in 5 minutes (at Mach 1) and launch an AMRAAM against the EMB-145 from a distance of 100km all while being constantly updated on the tactical situation through Link-16 from Turkish AEW&C.

    Under combat situations the EBM-145 will most certainly have to fly at least 250km away from the border in order to avoid hostile threats and stay relatively safe. Given the fact that the S-400 will stay relatively away from the border they do not pose any real new threat compared to fighter jets. Still, Greece will have the big advantage that Patriot batteries can be linked with the AEW&C while something like that will be quite difficult if not impossible for the S-400.

    My initial comment was made mostly to highlight the fact that hitting an aircraft at distances of 200-400km requires «cooperation» from that target and a clear line of sight. Fighter jets flying relatively close to the border face an existing threat from enemy fighters equipped with AMRAAM and Link-16 (and upgraded radars). Given the fact that Greece can threaten the S-400 in various ways if it was placed near the border, the system will mostly constitute a real threat for Greek strike packets penetrating deep into Turkish territory.

    If it was possible to link the S-400 with the Turkish flying radars and early warning system then it would pose a much more formidable threat since it would not be limited by its own radar horizon. Such a link does not seem relatively possible.

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  8. Imho, it seems that we forgot to utilize all our available options to mitigate this new threat.
    The article, eventhough fully analyzes the S-400 system capabilities, lacks to provide possible solutions. It doesn’t have to be HAF, since that means that either we have to procure F-35’s immediately or risk existing fleet with heavy losses.
    As far as Greek Army’s concerned, I think there’s an inventory of MLRS/ATACMS with range up to 300km aka 190m which should properly stationed might negate any thought of positioning the S-400 systems in a distance less than 300kms from Aeagean coast…
    That’s why the LOA for 40 MLRS, still pending in DSCA’s H/O, should be accepted & finalized

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  9. For MGM-140A, also known as ATACMS Block I maximum range is about 165 km (100 miles) & for designated MGM-140B ATACMS Block IA, which entered service in 1998, the range was increased to 300 km (185 miles) by reducing warhead weight…among others
    So which one is in Greek Army’s inventory?

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  10. Because of the attempted coup and resulting purges in the military, TuAF now has 0.8 pilots/plane ratio, whereas the norm should be 1.5 pilots/plane. Reaching the battle-ready norm again will take anywhere from 4-5 years. So the S-400 purchase is considered as a quick fix for air defense/area denial needs. Whether the systems will be up and running in 2018 as suggested, remains to be seen. They will be stationed around the capital, Ankara, and in the South-east mainly. No news or hints regarding Aegean deployment so far.

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  11. Very good comment Orhan

    I am not sure if in the end 2 or 4 batteries will be supplied by Russia. It still remains unclear….Except for the gap in pilots, there is still a gap in experienced pilots in TuAF due to the purges. A 10 year period might be required to fully recover

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  12. Countering is done by buying Krasukha-4 EW systems.

    But I find contradictory info on its performance:
    «The radius of the zone of coverage during suppression of radar systems of tactical reconnaissance aircraft is 11-19 km, of target-acquisition and fire-control systems – 16-41 km, of satellite vehicles – 15-25 km.»
    * https://southfront.org/krasukha-4-in-syria-one-year-of-electronic-shield-over-hmeymim-airbase/

    The Russians used the Krasukha-4 to shut down big parts of Turkey, IIRC it was after the SU-24 was shot down, and Wiki states Krasukha-2 has a range of 250km while Krasukha-4 has 300km.

    «The Krasukha-4 is intended to neutralize Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) spy satellites, ground-based radars and airborne radars (AWACS) at ranges between 150 to 300 kilometers. The system is also able to cause damage to the enemy’s EW (Electronic Warfare) systems and communications. /…/ a tool against “flying radars,” such as the USAF E-8 Joint STARS aircraft /…/ The system has been designed to counter attacks from enemies possessing advanced technologies.»
    * http://www.armyrecognition.com/russia_russian_military_field_equipment/krasukha-4_1rl257_broadband_multifunctional_jamming_station_electronic_warfare_system_technical_data_sheet_pictures_video_10610156.html

    You place one on the northern mainland, one on Rhodes, and one on Cyprus.

    A second countering perhaps could be done (by more arms race, this time thanks to Moscow…) by placing one of those KRET systems on navy ships.
    * http://rostec.ru/en/news/4516971/

    A third countering should not be done by ALQ-99 pods (or F-35’s, which Athens must be retarded if considering buying), but by Khibiny:
    «KRET is offering its foreign partners an export version of Khibiny, the latest Russian-produced multifunctional missile system that protects aircraft against missile attacks from fighter jets and other anti-aircraft weapons.»
    * http://rostec.ru/en/news/4517041/

    «“It all began with the flight of an Su-24 frontal bomber over the American destroyer ‘Donald Cook’ described in practically all Russian media, during which the Russian aircraft supposedly employed its newest ‘Khibiny’ system. Its effect on the ship’s electronic equipment almost caused panic leading to the mass resignation of sailors and officers from the ‘Cook.’ Later a photograph appeared on the Internet allegedly of a memorial coin (according to other data — a medal), noting this historic overflight, and on its back side was inscribed ‘Lesson of Peace.’”
    * https://russiandefpolicy.blog/tag/krasukha-4/

    Washington denied the Cook incident vehemently, including that many officers on the ship had resigned immediately and flew home as soon as they arrived in a Romanian port. But then parts of Turkey got shut down.

    …Game changer.

    You place one Krasukha-4 on the northern mainland, one on Rhodes, and one on Cyprus.

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