Russian S-300V4 air defense system able to intercept hypersonic targets

Russia has completed trials of S-300V4 air defense system. Test launches confirmed it can shoot down existing targets and prospective weapons that are designed, including hypersonic missiles. Experts believe S-300V4 with new missiles will provide reliable defense against foreign designs 10-15 years ahead, the Izvestia daily writes.
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9A83M TELAR of S-300V4 air defense system (Picture source: Vitaly Kuzmin)

S-300V4 trials were held in several stages, also during the Caucasus-2020 strategi exercise, Defense Ministry sources said. They have been completed by now. The air defense weapon confirmed the possibility to intercept tactical and hypersonic missiles. The ability to down hypersonic targets is due to a new special missile. The Defense Ministry said the latest S-300V4 missile has a hypersonic speed to guarantee the destruction of various targets, including cruise and tactical missiles at a distance of 400 km.

Air defense weapons are created for 10-15 years to defend against existing and future attack means, former Air Force Deputy Commander-in-Chief for CIS air defense Lieutenant-General Aitech Bizhev said. “S-300V2 and S-300V4 were designed for missile defense in the theater of warfare. A new-generation missile is being tested to ensure reliable defense against modern and prospective weapons. As for American claims about their hypersonic weapons, nobody has seen them in action yet,” he said.

U.S. President Donald Trump often said in 2020 that America possesses a missile which exceeds 17 times the speed of sound. He said the Russian missile accelerates to five times the speed of sound and China is designing a missile with 5-6 times the speed of sound. The Pentagon confirmed the statement and said it was designing a line of missiles. However, claims about 17 times the speed of sounds have not been confirmed so far. In early September, the U.S. Department of Defense reported successful trials of hypersonic prototypes. However, the U.S. command acknowledged it is behind Russia and China in the sphere.

In mid-October, the Air Force Magazine for the first time disclosed some characteristics of airborne hypersonic AGM-183A ARRW missile. Director of Strategic Plans, Programs and Requirements Andrew Gebara said the missile can fly 1,000 miles (1,600 km) in 10-12 minutes. It means it develops a speed of Mach 6.5-8.

S-300V4 is a breakthrough weapon against any air attack. It can defend a space two-three times bigger than S-300 can. The destruction area considerably expands. The new weapon can intercept warheads of medium-range missiles. It has directed radars and launchers to down ballistic missiles.

Open sources said S-300V4 fires medium and long-range missiles. The latter can be upgraded to down hypersonic targets, expert Dmitry Kornev said. “Previous S-300V modification could shoot down tactical missiles. The range of targets has been expanded due to upgraded equipment, radars and the command post, as well as modern missiles. They have more effective fuel and controls,” he said.

The main problem of hypersonic interception is the speed and the low altitude of maneuvering missiles. A ballistic missile can be detected several thousand kilometers away when it is ascending. A low-flying object can be detected later and leaves little time for reaction.

“The interception of hypersonic craft should be very fast. It concerns computers, detection and guidance controls. A missile fired at a maneuvering target has to maneuver itself with a major overload otherwise it is unable to turn to the missile that changed flight direction,” Kornev said.

The guidance system plays a major role. Ground means are not very fit for it. Although data transmission between them and the missile takes less than a second, it is too long for hypersonic interception. The missile should be homing itself. It can be armed with fragmentation flying in various directions, the Izvestia said.

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