The Russian S-500 air defense system (ADS), said to counter not only aircraft, missiles and space weapons, but also satellites in low-earth orbit (LEO) has completed state tests and is set to enter service with the country’s military forces.
"Currently, a number of tests have been carried out with combat launches of anti-aircraft guided missiles at air targets. All tests have been completed with a positive result," Commander of Missile Defence Troops of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Maj. Gen. Sergei Babakov, said in an interview with the Russian Defense Ministry-owned Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper.
Babakov added that first of the S-350 Vityaz ADS have already been delivered to the military. It was developed to replace older S-300PT-PS anti-aircraft systems. The system can defeat advanced standoff weapons threats such as cruise missiles, manned (including stealth) aircraft, medium and heavy unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as tactical ballistic missiles.
As per an Izvestia report published last month, Russia test-fired an all-new missile from its S-500.
The system’s “first samples” will enter service this year while its serial delivery is scheduled for 2025, according to Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian state defense manufacturer, Rostec.
S-500 ‘Triumfator-Mor Prometheus’
The S-500 is dubbed as Space Defense System (SDS) for its ability to destroy targets in low orbit space besides hypersonic missiles, medium-range ballistic missiles and ICBMs. It is developed by Almaz-Antey Corporation which also manufactures S-400 and S-300 systems.
The Prometheus S-500 is expected to have an extended range of up to 600 km (an improvement of 200km over the S-400). The radar range is also more than that of the S-400 and the system will have the potential to destroy hypersonic and ballistic targets with interceptors operating at an altitude higher than 185km.
In previous tests, the S-500 system is said to have hit target missiles from a range of 480 km, the longest range strike by any ADS. According to unofficial information, the S-500s will have a response time of about 3-4 seconds, less than half of S-400’s 9-10 seconds.
The main missile with the S-500 is the 40N6 missile a 30-feet long, two-stage solid fuel missile capable of reaching speeds of 9 Mach having a blast-fragmentation warhead with a range of 310 miles and 95-percent accuracy. The Prometheus will use 2 new types of missiles: the 77N6-N and 77N6-N1, the first-ever Russian missiles with inert warheads, capable of destroying nuclear warheads by force of impact. The missiles will strike ballistic missiles at a height of 185 km considerably minimising the impact of their debris.
S-500 system is expected to use the 91N6A(M) battle management radar and 96L6-TsP target acquisition radar besides new 76T6 multimode engagement radars. The other components will be the launch vehicle and command posts.
Better than Patriot?
The S-500’s closest Western rival is the U.S.-built Patriot PAC-3, with both systems capable of shooting down both aircraft and ballistic missiles. If Russian claims of the S-500 system being able to destroy hypersonic missiles and LEO satellites are true, then it is undoubtedly better than its American counterpart.
As per older reports, the Patriot could shoot down a target at 8kmph speed. It can engage with 36 targets simultaneously and track 125 targets at the same time. . Patriot can locate a plane at 180 km and an enemy’s missile at 100 km.
On the other hand, the S-500 can reportedly detect and simultaneously engage up to 10 ballistic hypersonic targets flying at a speed of 5-7kmph. It also aims at destroying hypersonic cruise missiles and other aerial targets at speeds of higher than Mach 5, as well as spacecraft. The altitude of a target engaged can be as high as 180–200 km.
While the deployment time for Patriot is 25 minutes, the same for S-500 is not known. It could be better than its American rival as even its predecessor, the S-400, had a deployment time of 5 minutes.
Various informed sources have previously said that to hit an aircraft with a probability not less than 0.99, one will have to launch 1-2 S-400 missiles or 2-3 Patriot missiles. In case of fighting off a ballistic missile attack the ratio will be 1 / 2 or 3 in favor of S-400.