When I am outraged by this butt-hurt I am not being facetious, self-righteous, chauvinistic or suffering from the acute case of schadenfreude. I am literally enraged by alleged professionals spewing an obvious utter bullshit for whatever reasons. In the end, when you come home in the evening you have to live with yourself. Here is what I am talking about:
"It's the geopolitical aspects of the S-400 offerings that are the
most interesting," said Thomas Karako, director of the Missile Defense
Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Karako highlighted that
despite the appetite for the Russian-made system, the S-400 has yet to
see combat, unlike America's Patriot missile defense system.
Here is an example for people who proclaim (or are being proclaimed) the experts and for those who are not. In any weapon system its evolution from basic legacy versions to advanced ones matters a great deal, hugely. In fact, this evolution is what defines latest version of the systems. Lessons, combat experiences, new technologies--all coalesce in latest versions of any weapon system. Record also does matter a great deal. And here is the issue: what combat performance of Patriot (of any PAC version) can even remotely touch a colossal combat experience of Soviet/Russian air defense complexes? Unless Mr. Karako wants to sell us a bridge about US air defense systems having a "record" (an underwhelming one, I may add, even against ancient SCUD ballistic missiles) in combat, he should recall that Soviet legacy systems, when manned by properly trained personnel, were a nightmare for many Air Forces in 1960s, 1970s and even 1980s. The sample space which was and still is available to Soviet designers of Air Defense (and anti-missile) complexes is on several orders of magnitude greater than any US designer and manufacturer of air defense systems could ever dream about.
It is akin to US Navy (we will omit here operational necessity and viability today) having a sample space in carrier aviation--even Royal Navy's considerable carrier experience is dwarfed by that of US Navy's. US simply produced, operated and learned about carrier aviation more than anyone else. As an example, Russians are not butt-hurting about it--they know that Americans are on orders of magnitude better at this and Russians actually try to learn instead of coming up with lame excuses about combat. Patriot saw combat and it performance was lacking, to put it mildly. The record was set. Soviet AD systems, to which S-400 is heir saw much-much more combat than Patriot, let alone THAAD, and they performed extremely well including having a strategic impact on operations both in Vietnam and Middle East.
We also should not forget an astounding performance of Soviet legacy and modern short-range systems in Syria this April. The result was a shock to the system with 70% of TLAMs intercepted by the technology of 1960s and 1970s, granted with some upgrades. I guess Mr. Karako should ask himself a question--is it reasonable then, that nations which are in line for S-400, instead of THAAD, do not read PR spins on "being in combat" but understand that April 2018 performance by old Syrian Air Defense was to a large degree thanks to sensor capabilities of this very S-400. If less capable S-300 PMU2 can shut down Israeli Air Force operations over coastal Syria and, most likely, Lebanon--how is it called, "combat" or not? So, straight question--are Russian air-defense and missile-defense systems superior to American ones? Yes, they are and no amount of PR spin by all kinds of self-proclaimed "experts" nor pretending that Patriot's combat use matters against a gigantic combat experience of Soviet and Russian air defense systems, it does not--different capabilities, different designs and combat use philosophies realized in Russian weapons. Russian weapons are not panacea; as any very complex technology they are prone to malfunctions, breakdowns, in the end they could be overwhelmed and defeated under some very strict conditions, but they are simply the best in what they do. This is precisely why S-400, as well as SU-35, as well as ANY versions of 3M54 or 3M14 and many other things are the hottest items on the international arms market. The biggest economy in the world, China, buys them.
Russians are not that sublime or, altogether, stupid to not recognize a potential for an immense commercial boost of Russia's weapon systems showcased in Syria. Everyone knew that the show was coming once Russian VKS' first units started to arrive to Khmeimim in 2015. That is why Mr. Ralph Peters went hysterical stating that Russia wanted to humiliate US military--what a load of crap. Russians merely showcased their real military capabilities and one of the centerpieces of this show was traditionally immensely impressive Soviet/Russian air-defense weapons. They are simply the best in the world, S-400 is one of such systems. S-500 which is already in IOC is altogether a change in anti-air and anti-missile weaponry paradigm. So it is reasonable to assume that people want to buy those from the vendor which, speaking in Amazon's or Hotels dot Com lingo, has all 5-star rankings. So, Karako's "combat" argument is not an argument at all but the last butt-hurt straw to be grasped in a feeble attempt to avoid stating the obvious--Russia's claims for eventually becoming the number one international weapons vendor may not be that far fetched after all. In the end, it is just business, nothing personal, and former Soviet, now Russian, weapons makers surely love being shrewd capitalists by doing what original expanding capitalism did--by making a better more affordable product.