Only F-35 Stealth Jets Capable of Countering Russia's S-400 Missile System?

Only F-35 Stealth Jets Capable of Countering Russia's S-400 Missile System
Only F-35 Stealth Jets Capable of Countering Russia's S-400 Missile System?

International Military - F-16 fighter jets have no chance of winning against Russia's advanced S-400 Triumph missile defense system if sent to Ukraine. According to veteran US fighter pilot John Venable, only the F-35 stealth fighter jet is capable of countering Moscow's defensive weapons.

Venable, who is currently active as a Senior Research Fellow on Defense Policy at the Heritage Foundation, said he was an F-16 fighter jet pilot so he knew exactly what the aircraft's combat opportunities would be. His assessment is also based on his interviews with a dozen operational pilots from a team called "Weasels".

"Weasels" in the early 1990s were tasked with triangulating active surface-to-air missile (SAM) radars, pinpointing their location, and then engaging them with HARMS Targeting System (HTS) pods.

In his comments, Venable makes the case for the F-35: "Weasels are very capable, but they need to have a 'line of sight' to the target, meaning they can be shot down by the threat they are trying to destroy."

The United States Air Force (USAF) veteran with 25 years of experience said the Russian S-400 SAM was commissioned 15 years after the F-16 Block 50 fighter jet and specifically to counter the superior Fighting Falcons aircraft. During the war, F-16 pilots had to fly close enough to force S-400 operators to turn on their systems, revealing themselves to Weasels.

“More than a dozen operational Weasel pilots I interviewed in 2017 said fighter losses from such dual aircraft would not be sustainable. Each conveyed the belief that the only fighter capable of taking on the S-400 and avoiding its losses is a fifth-generation fighter specifically designed for that fight—the F-35,” Venable stressed, as reported by the EurAsian Times.

The current war is between Russia and Ukraine, but both sides fielded Russian weapons and SAM systems. Its effectiveness against fourth-generation fighter aircraft has prevented both countries from using air power in a systematic manner.

“Russian SAM systems fielded by Russia and Ukraine are so effective against fourth-generation fighters that pilots rarely attack enemy positions because the chances of success (or survival) are very low. Such threats have prompted both sides to engage in sporadic attacks, pop-up attacks or standoff operations with little tactical, let alone operational, effect on the battlefield," Venable said.

While Ukraine has the S-300, Russia deploys the mobile S-400 (known as the SA-21 Growler among NATO countries), considered the world's most advanced SAM system designed to engage targets at ranges of up to 400 kilometers in a wide jamming environment. intensive.

The S-400 system can track multiple stealth targets with high modularity and high mobility, ensuring the system is deployable and engages targets within minutes. It is lethal against non-stealth fighter jets. Those conditions have forced Ukrainian pilots to fly their fourth-generation fighters beyond the effective range of the S-400 or fly at low altitude until they reach and reach a target they can find before dropping back down to low altitude.

Fighting the Russian S-400 has become the main focus of NATO countries. The US has provided High Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMS) to counter long-range missiles. To be effective, HARMS must be launched from within the missile's maximum range and on an actively transmitting radar. “Without an onboard system that can pinpoint the location of the SAM, or detect its emissions, hitting the S-400 (or any other radar) with a USD200,000 HARMS launched from a MiG-29 or Su-27 is nothing more than sheer luck," added Venable.

“The F-35 is the only system that can find, repair, and destroy the S-400, and it costs millions less to acquire and 10 percent less to maintain than the fourth-generation F-15EX, a fighter that will not be any more effective. for Ukraine than the MiG-29s or Su-27s currently operating there," he said.

While the US is hesitant to provide F-16s to Ukraine, the scenario of the US providing the latest F-35s to Ukraine is unappealing. "It is highly unlikely that the US will provide Ukraine with any fighter jets - neither F-16s nor F-35s because there has not been time to provide adequate training to Ukrainian pilots," he said.

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