News of the sale began to circulate on Russian news outlets on April 13. The S-400 can launch up to 72 missiles and simultaneously engage 36 targets up to 248 miles away.
The Chinese regime is currently using Russia’s previous missile defense system, the S-300. They’ve been negotiating with Russia to purchase the S-400 since 2010.
When negotiations for the purchase were still taking place, DefenseNews reported that Taiwan could be the country most affected by the sale. It noted the S-400 will give the Chinese regime “complete air defense coverage of Taiwan.”
The missile defense system would significantly affect the Taiwanese air force if there were an armed conflict with Mainland China.
“When S-400s work together with Chinese land-and sea-based fighters, the Chinese will have more confidence in sustaining airspace dominance over the Taiwan theater, thus depriving any organized resistance by the Taiwan Air Force and deterring the American intervention,” York Chen, a former member of Taiwan’s National Security Council, told DefenseNews.
The S-400 mobile missile systems can allegedly shoot down any flying target, including aircraft and drones. They can also allegedly shoot down cruise and ballistic missiles. Russia claims the systems were highly effective during tests. The S-400 has been in service in Russia since 2007.
The recent sale was confirmed in a short comment from Anatoly Isaykin, director general of Russia’s major arms exporting company Rosoborobexport.
“I will not disclose the details of the contract, but yes, China has indeed become the first buyer of this sophisticated Russian air defense system,” Isaykin told Russian daily Kommersant.
“Despite the expansion of production capacities, it’s difficult to deliver these air defense systems to several countries. In this regard, China will be the first customer,” Isaikin said.
Isaykin did not disclose details on the contact, yet some details were released last year when Russia first approved the sale to China.
One of the main concerns Russia had was that the Chinese regime would just buy a handful of the systems, then counterfeit them. In April 2014, China and Russia finalized an agreement with tight standards that China could not copy it.
The Diplomat reported in April 2014 that the Chinese regime agreed to purchase between two and four of the S-400 missile defense systems. The number was not disclosed in the recent announcement.