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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Russian Long-Range Air Defense Efforts Bloom

By Maxim Pyadushkin
Russia is ramping up fielding of its newest long-range air defense system and has put the follow-on missile defense capability on a firm development path.

The future of Russia’s air defense is based on the S-500 missile system, which, according to the head of the Space Defense Strategic Command, Lt. Gen. Valery Ivanov, is being developed to have exo-atmospheric intercept capability. It is now on contract with Moscow-based air defense design house Almaz-Antey. “The testing of this system should start in 2015,” says Vladimir Popovkin, first deputy defense minister.

The new interceptors will initially be tested on the S-400, Popovkin notes; the S-400 improvements were similarly first tested on the S-300.

The government plans to buy the initial 10 S-500 systems before 2020.

The S-500 will likely operate alongside the S-400 now reaching troops. Last month, Russia’s Space Defense Strategic Command received the second regiment of the long-range S-400 Triumf (designated by NATO the SA-21 Growler) surface-to-air missile system. The handover ceremony occurred at the Kapustin Yar missile test range in southern Russia, where the S-400 was undergoing acceptance trials. According to the Russian military, the regiment includes two battalions that each have eight missile launchers, which in turn carry four missiles each.

Once trials have been completed, the new regiment is due to be moved to Dmitrov north of Moscow for its permanent installation, says Ivanov. The first regiment equipped with the S-400 is already deployed in Elektrostal, east of Russia’s capital; it received two battalions in 2007-08. “We need not less than three to four S-400 regiments for effective air defense of Moscow. This [will be completed] in 2016-20,” Ivanov told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

The military has ambitious fielding plans for the system. The previous defense procurement program called for acquisition of 23 Triumf battalions through 2015. But late last month Popovkin announced that the military now plans to buy 56 battalions of S-400s under the new defense procurement program through 2020. The purchase is part of a wider modernization program estimated at 19 trillion rubles ($674 billion) and expected to be approved by the Russian president by mid-year, though the military can place initial orders now.

The S-400 is intended to replace both the S-300V (SA-12 Gladiator) in the army and S-300PMU (SA-10 Grumble) in the air defense forces.

The Russian military claims the S-400 can engage aircraft, ballistic and cruise missiles as well as hypersonic aerial vehicles at ranges up to 400 km (250 mi.) and an altitude of 40-50 km. But the Almaz design bureau says the system can hit airborne targets at a range of more than 200 km, while ballistic missile targets can be engaged at a maximum range of 60 km. The S-400 is designed to engage targets flying at 4,800 meters per sec. (15,750 fps.)at altitudes of 10 meters to 30 km.

The system’s multirole capabilities are provided by use of a new radar and various solid-propellant missiles. It can simultaneously engage 12 targets, twice as many as the S-300. Triumf can use the 48N6E missile inherited from the S-300, as well as the new 9M96 missile. Both feature active radar seekers. The performance of the smaller 9M96 was initially demonstrated as the latest modification of the S-300PMU-2 Favorite, on which it was installed in separate launching tubes. But the S-400 will reportedly use unified tubes that will be able to house either one 48N6E or four 9M96 missiles.

The 400-km engagement range mentioned by the military is believed to refer to a new long-range missile designed specially for the S-400. But for now there is no official confirmation of the status of that interceptor.

Russia’s ground forces also plan to enhance their air defense capabilities with modernized S-300V long-range missiles. The defense ministry recently reported that this year the service will start receiving improved S-300V4 air defense systems. Details of that version are still closely guarded.

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Air Power- Russia's missile defense S-500 -Российской системы ПРO

S-400 Triumf

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