Russian S-500 air defense system to be finalized in 2021

The Russian Defense Ministry announced plans to finalize the creation of S-500 air and missile defense systems in 2021. Official data about the weapon, which will overwhelm all available missile and defense systems, remain scarce, the Izvestia daily writes.
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S-400 Triumf remains the main and most numerous air defense system (Picture source: Army Recognition)

The creation of S-500 mobile antiaircraft system is to be finalized next year and acceptance trials began this year. So far, they proceed in a simplified configuration without all declared capabilities. Deputy Defense Minister Alexey Krivoruchko said the first serial S-500 would be supplied in 2025.

S-500 has to destroy intermediate-range ballistic missiles and intercontinental missiles at the final stage of the flight trajectory. It can also down aircraft, drones and hypersonic missiles, but it is not a priority task. In future, S-500 will be able to destroy low-orbit satellites. The system is armed with various missiles against atmospheric and space targets. Antiaircraft guided missile 40N6 with a range of 400 km will fight air targets. S-400 complexes are already armed with it.

Antiaircraft guided missiles of the 77N6 family will down satellites. The combination of various missiles in one launcher has been tested by the Ground Forces on S-300V4.

Several radars with various functions had to be designed to detect different targets. One will be in charge of the near space and the other will detect air targets at a major altitude and distance. Like S-400, the new system may get specialized radars to detect stealth and low-flying targets.

Defense industry sources said S-500 will have two options: mobile (self-propelled chassis/launcher) and towed. The latter will have launchers and radars carried on semitrailers. Both options have pros and cons, former Air Force Deputy Commander-in-Chief for CIS air defense Lieutenant-General Aitech Bizhev said. “The towed systems are mostly used to defend stationary objects. The mobile (self-propelled) ones are engaged in a rapidly changing situation in the theater of warfare. The mobile launcher needs minutes to deploy, fire and change position. However, if the vehicle breaks down, the whole system becomes an easy target. The towed hardware can be pulled by any prime mover but lacks mobility and maneuverability. It takes more time to prepare for fire and time is important in antiaircraft combat. The commander will decide which launchers to engage depending on the situation and defended objects,” he said.

S-500 will not replace but complement previous-generation launchers and mostly ensure missile and space defense. S-400 Triumf remains the main and most numerous air defense system. Pantsir-SM, S-350 Vityaz and Buk-M3 will operate in the close range. S-500 will exchange information with them and jointly operate under automatic control. It is an organic function for all new air defense weapons.

S-500 was designed in secrecy from the very beginning. The exterior and characteristics have not been officially disclosed so far. The first media reports about the new weapon appeared in 2009. However, designers have been creating it much longer. The Defense Ministry and the Almaz company signed a contract for Triumfator-M R&D in 2001. The concept and research took several years to provide S-500 with superior characteristics. The creation of S-500 intensified after S-400 was completed, the Izvestia said.

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