China is close to a "late July or early August" test firing of a new Russian missile defence system reportedly capable of taking down an F-35 stealth fighter, according to SCMP, citing a Kremlin military source.
"It is planned that in late July or early August the unit of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) that underwent training in Russia will carry out a test firing against a simulated ballistic target at a Chinese firing ground," the person said.
With a range of 2,400km (1,500 miles), the S-400 can engage up to 36 targets simultaneously with as many as 72 missiles at altitudes of between 5 metres (16 feet) and 30km (19 miles).
Beijing-based military expert Li Jie said that the sale of the S-400 to China would help Russia to promote its air defence missile technology on the international market, which has been dominated by the United States’ patriot system.
“The S-400 missile will further consolidate Beijing and Moscow’s strategic partnership in diplomatic, political, economic and military cooperation,” he said. -SCMP
Hong Kong-based military expert Song Zhongping told SCMP that it was very likely Beijing would test the S-400 right after taking delivery, while China's Rocket Force is already familiar with the system's predecessor, the S-300.
“The PLA has been using the S-300 since the 1990s, so it will be easier for them to pick up the new S-400 than it will be for other countries, like India and Turkey, which are also planning to buy the new defence system,” said Zhongping.
In late June, Turkey openly defied Trump's threat of sanctions if they were tocomplete the purchase of S-400 systems. Ankara said said the acquisition of was "a done deal and Turkey will not turn back from its decision."
India, meanwhile, announced in early July a $5.7 billion deal to purchase S-400s despite the threat of US retaliation.
The Times of India noted that in October 2015, India had planned to procure the S-400s - which can detect, track and destroy supersonic bombers, drones, fifth-generation fighters, spy planes, and supersonic missiles at a range of up to 400km and altitude of 30km - in what many Indian officials have praised as a game-changing military acquisition.
Beijing agreed to buy the S-400 Triumph system in 2014, while also ordering 24 Russian Su-35 fighter jets – as upgrades to the Su-27. 14 had been delivered as of the end of 2017.