Difference Between THAAD v/s S400? [Explained]

Jai Hind future warriors today we are going to discuss about the ongoing debates between THAAD and S400 about which one is better.


Terminal High Altitude Area Defence

  • Type: Mobile Anti-Ballistic Missile System
  • Origin: United States
  • Built By: Lockheed Martin
  • In Service: 2008-Till Date
  • Engine: Single Stage Rocket
  • Operational Range: Greater than 200 Km
  • Flight Ceiling and Max Speed: 150 km and 2800m/s
  • Guidance System: Indium-Antimonide Imaging Infra-Red Seeker Head with Hit to Kill Accuracy

Capabilities of THAAD

THAAD defends against short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. It provides a unique endo-and exo-ballistic defense capability and was specifically designed to provide a robust capability against mass raid. The system uses Lockheed Martin technology to destroy a threat with direct impact – providing ensured negation of weapons of mass destruction, enhanced reliability and safety.


  • Type: Mobile Surface-To-Air Missile Anti-Ballistic Missile System
  • Origin: Russia
  • Manufacturer: Fakel Machine-Building Design Bureau with designer being Almaz-Antey
  • In-Service: 2007-Till Date
  • Per Unit Cost: $300 million
  • Ground Clearance: 485 mm
  • Operational Range:
  • 400 km (40N6E missile)
  • 250 km (48N6 missile
  • 120 km (9M96E2 missile)
  • 40 km (9M96E missile)

Capabilities of S400

The S-400 comes with a multifunction radar, autonomous detection and targeting systems, anti-aircraft missile systems, launchers, and command and control centre.

The missile system is capable of taking on practically any aerial target within a range of 400km and can simultaneously engage 36 targets. It can be activated within five minutes, is twice as effective as the previous Russian air defence systems and has the flexibility to be integrated into the existing and future air defence units of the air force, army and navy.

To engage a multiplicity of targets, the S-400 uses four kinds of missiles along with the missiles of the earlier S-300 variant. So, first there is the 48N6DM missile, which can hit airborne targets within a range of 250km while the 40N6 missile has a range of 400km and “uses active radar homing to intercept air targets at great distances”.

The S-400 also comes with improved electronic counter-countermeasures to thwart attempts at jamming while its radars are capable of detecting low-signature targets.

Then there are the 9M96E and 9M96E2 medium range ground-to-air missiles that can strike “fast moving targets such as fighter aircraft with a high hit probability”. The range of the 9M96 missiles is 120km. CSIS adds that another missile, the 77N6, is currently in testing, which comes a hit-to-kill capability “designed specifically to destroy ballistic missile warheads”. ‘Hit-to-kill’ implies the capability to take down a target through the use of kinetic power. That is, these weapons rely on destroying a target by hitting it at high velocity instead of packing an explosive warhead.

Also Read: Major Difference Between Brahmos V/S S400?

Comparison THAAD v/s S400

  • Type:
  • THAAD is an Anti-Missile system specifically built to shoot down ballistic missiles in their terminal phase by intercepting with kinetic-kill technology.
  • S-400 is both an Anti-Missile system and Anti-Aircraft system powerful enough to shoot down both ballistic missiles and even stealth aircrafts with help of its most advanced interceptors.
  • Verdict: S-400 is the clear winner here with its plus feature of shooting down stealth aircrafts
  • Basic Features:
  • Each system of THAAD costs $900m has 6 launchers with 8 missiles each covering a range of 125 miles at a maximum target speed of Mach 8.2 giving a service ceiling of 93 miles
  • Each system of S-400 costs $550m has 9 launchers with a total of 120 missiles covering a range of 250 miles at a maximum target speed of Mach 14 giving a service ceiling of 14 miles
  • Verdict: S-400 clearly has outclassed THAAD by a huge margin in basic specifications
  •  Engine Power
  • A THAAD missile is powered by a single stage rocket engine. On the contrary, S-400s can fire a wide variety of missiles with varying ranges with the largest one being powered by rocket engines Verdict- S400 trumps THAAD again.
  • Radar & Avionics
  • The THAAD is equipped with AN/TPY-2 ground-based radar for surveillance, threat classification and tracking. The radar is X-band active electronically scanned array radar capable of detecting low RCS targets with better resolution. It can detect ballistic missile at range up to 2,900miles.
  • While the S-400 is supported by active electronically scanned array radar featuring 3D surveillance and target tracking. The radar is mounted on an 8×8 vehicle, which provides excellent mobility. It can detect ballistic missile, aircrafts, drones, guided missiles at range up to 373 miles.
  • Verdict: Draw as even though THAAD radars have a much superior range S400 radars can detect multiple threat objects.
  •  Working
  • The THAAD radar detects and tracks ballistic missile threats before it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere. An interceptor missile is fired towards the enemy projectile in its terminal phase. The interceptor missile slams into the enemy missile, causing it to explode before it reaches its target by using kinetic kill.
  • Similarly, S-400 radar detects and tracks the enemy projectile. It passes on the target data to the launcher. A gas system launches missiles from the launch tubes up to 98ft into the air before the main engine kicks in. S-400 can destroy a target within the distance of 250mi with speeds of over Mach 14. A full S400 can be deployed within 15 minutes with a response time of 10 seconds.


S400 is cheaper and much more versatile than the THAAD but the radars and satellite technology of the USA make THAAD very dangerously accurate.

Hope this post was informative for you, for more such posts related to defence exams and SSB Interview stay tuned.

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Ashish Tiwari

    Intern at SSBCrackExams. Maths Undergrad and Defence Aspirant, been to SSB 4 times for NDA Entry. Enjoy reading novels and playing cricket

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