Developed from the S-300PM2, the S-400 Triumf first entered service in the Russian armed forces in 2007. Designed as a modern long range surface to air missile system, the weapon is highly symbolic of Russia's resurgence as a major military industrial power following the fall of the USSR. Widely considered the most advanced long range air defence system in the world, the S-400 is unmatched in its 400km engagement range, and can engage up to 80 targets simultaneously. Sophisticated counter stealth capabilities, a detection range of 600km and a response time of under ten second make the platform highly desirable among a number of nations facing potent threats to their airspace, including both Russian and Western military partners.
Russia's Almaz Antey Central Design Bureau's new platform's first export client was China's People's Liberation Army, for which it is a formidable asset. The SAM system's coverage over much of the South and East China Seas and its ability to detect stealth aircraft, the spearhead of U.S. war plans against the country as elaborated in the Air Sea Battle Pacific War strategy, significant strengthened Chinese defences. The potency of the S-400 as an anti access area denial system against even the most advanced Western aircraft was demonstrated long after Chinese orders were placed, when in late 2015 Russia deployed the air defence systems to Syria. Alongside the specialised S-300VM anti missile platform, the S-400 proved capable of deterring air attacks by far more numerous Western air forces operating in Syrian airspace - against which the small Russian military contingent in the country had otherwise proven to be highly vulnerable. In the Arab world, where the regional order had long been dictated by the potency of Western arms, this hardly went unnoticed.
In the aftermath of Islamic State's defeat in Syria and the hands of the Russian and Syrian militaries and the Western bloc's inability to see through the removal of the Syrian government as they had pledged, several Arab states began to place orders or otherwise open negotiations for the S-400. Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Qatar and Morocco have already placed such orders - as has Turkey which, bordering Syria and having itself threatened Russian forces in the country, witnessed the effectiveness of the platform firsthand.
According to Russian upper house’s Defense and Security Committee Chairman Viktor Bondarev told Sputnik, a number of other countries have expressed interest in the S-400. He stated: “Potential buyers include Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Egypt. Everyone who experiences a threat to own security posed by terrorist groups and NATO member states." He noted that Turkey's decision as a NATO member to prioritise acquisition of the S-400 over jeopardising relations with other NATO states attested to its potency and desirability. Bondarev further noted that other states were expected to show interest in the system in future. India is expected to operate the system in the near future, while Bahrain has already entered negotiations for the platform. What is notable about these sales is that the vast majority of clients are longstanding Western partners and loyal clients for Western arms. The fact that so many of these states have turned to Russia to provide for their air defence capabilities indicates both the significant technological advantage of Russian SAM systems over those of their Western counterparts such as the American made Patriot as well as the shifting balance of power and Western bloc's declining influence in the Middle East.