I think a S-400 will probably use its entire missile inventory. Reasoning below:This is highly inaccurate. You guys are assuming an S-400 site has 120 launches. Not true. These 120 missiles will need a LOT of time to reload canisters. An S-400 division does not have 30 trucks with four cannisters each. Not even close.
Your dollar comparison is again inaccurate because the S-400 will need to shoot down those three F-35s. Question is if the S-400 can defend the targeted site from three F-35s. That's hard to say but I'd bet on the stealth fighters. I personally believe a single F-35 can destroy the site and take out the SAM but that's pure conjecture. None of us know if it's worth it if you only consider the value of the F-35 at how successfully it can conduct this one particular job while ignoring how versatile it actually is.
- The TELs themselves are actually difficult to find, because they aren't emitting radar and are hidden amongst ground clutter.
- The reload vehicles are even more difficult to find, because they will really be hidden away until needed.
- It is likely that just the search/acquisition radars will be targeted because they are emitting radar. And these can be replaced.
- Each TEL can carry 4 SAMs or 16 smaller SAMs.
- So this S-400 Division could have anywhere between 32-120 SAMs ready to launch.
- Three F-35s will have a maximum of 18 standoff missiles.
So I also cannot see how a single F-35 could successfully destroy a S-400 by itself.
NB. Note that a S-400 Division could have a maximum of 384 SAMs ready to launch,
That should successfully defend against over thirty F-35.
From the Chinese perspective, I think this reasoning is partly why they bought six S-400 divisions in 2019. Plus the longer range SAMs denies the use of airspace over Taiwan/Korea.
The Chinese S-400s now cover the entire Chinese coastline from the Arctic North to the tropical South China Seas, as per the latest CBSA maps.