As NATO is building up its military presence along Russia’s borders, the world’s second-largest military power is developing a next-generation version of its mobile air defense system, which could be ready as soon as 2020.
Russia’s next-generation S-500 air and missile defense system, dubbed Prometey, is said to exceed any existing air defense system in the world, including the S-400 surface-to-air missile system and the American Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile system.
“Compared with the S-400, the S-500 system is to be equipped with a new, super powerful radar, and the distance between the system and the enemy’s incoming target can be increased by 150-200 km,” RIA Novosti reported on Monday, citing China’s Sina news portal.
Developed in 2007, the S-400 Triumf is considered Russia’s latest long- and medium-range surface-to-air missile system. It was designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, and can be used against ground installations. The S-400 can engage targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (249 miles) and at an altitude of up to 30 kilometers (19 miles) under intensive enemy fire and jamming.
Compared to the S-400, the S-500 surface-to-air missile systems, also known as 55R6M Triumfator-M, will be capable of detecting virtually every type of warplane, including small unmanned drones and low-flying cruise missiles, within a range of up to 600 kilometers (373 miles).
Being developed by the state-owned Almaz-Antey, it will reportedly be capable to track and target up to 10 ballistic targets moving at speeds of up to seven kilometers (4 miles) per second, mainly due to a new missile launch tube configuration. The system is equipped with a phased array radar that could effectively take action against launches which are between 3000 and 3500 km away.
The new air defense system came under the spotlight this week after the CEO of Rostec, Sergei Chemezov, stated that Russia is planning to start mass production of a new generation of antiaircraft missile weapons by the latter half of 2020.
“I think mass production will begin in a year,” Chemezov said in an interview with Russia's RBC published last week. “First of all, we will need to provide our own military with the system, and only then build the system for export.”
Although most of the characteristics of the new sophisticated air defense system are under wraps, aerospace defense expert Sergey Khatylev shed light on some of the S-500's competencies.
Speaking in an interview with PolitExpert, he said that the S-500 will be capable to counter attacks from space, hinting the system will serve as a highly mobile anti-ballistic missile system.
“We are stepping up a new level of development of our combat use and are rising into the space sphere,” said Khatylev. “This means that we are switching from air to anti-missile defense, and we will destroy not only the existing targets but those that will be applied in five-ten years.”