Is the Russian S-500 causing problems for American stealth planes?

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The Russian defense industry has reportedly revealed deployment plans for the first batch of next-generation S-500 missile defense systems.

“The first S-500 air defense systems regiment entered service with a unit, whose combat duty is to guard and defend the airspace above the nation’s capital,” a close source said. from the Russian Defense Ministry to Russian state media TASS. . The source did not provide a timetable for the system’s entry into service, nor did it specify which military unit will take delivery of the systems from Moscow. The source added that the second mass-produced S-500 regiment will be delivered to Russian missile forces in the first half of 2022, under a “long-term contract”. A report from a Russian media Gazeta.ru added that the S-500s in Moscow will be deployed alongside Pantsir-SM surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, in line with Russia’s phased approach to missile defense networks.

While TASS suggested that the new missile systems could have been awarded to the 15th Army Aerospace Forces, a privileged defense industry source said Gazeta that the first S-500s were handed over to the 1st Army Special Purpose Anti-Aircraft and Missile Defense. “The 15th Army of Aerospace Forces is dedicated to satellites, control of orbital units, space surveillance and the detection of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches. It is quite different [from operating missile defense systems]. The 1st anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense army is the defense of Moscow, the S-400, the Pantsir air defense missile system. This is where the S-500 went, ”the source said. Former First Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces (VVKO) Colonel General Vladimir Litvinov said Gazeta that more than three S-500 systems will be needed to fully cover the confines of Moscow’s airspace.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters in mid-September that the first S-500 regiments had entered service, but the announcement comes with a caveat. “The state trials have just ended and the first supplies for this complex have started,” Borisov said. “This is not yet the full range as required by the Almaz-Antey Concern. The configurations of the complex have been discussed. Borisov’s ambiguous statement seemed to suggest that some components may be missing in the handful of S- units. 500 already delivered, hinting at some kind of soft launch for the new system.

Russian defense officials and commentators have presented the S-500 as a “silver bullet” against American stealth planes, with manufacturer Almaz-Antey calling the system a “blow to American prestige.” Military expert Alexei Leonkov said the S-500 would do particularly well against the upcoming US B-21 Raider stealth bomber. “The US military relies on the stealth of the B-21,” Leonkov said. “But they do not take into account the fact that work is constantly underway to improve and update Russian radars … Russian military radars will be able to detect the B-21, which can then be engaged not only by the S-400 and S-500 but also by [other] air defense systems.

The S-500 “Triumfator-M” is a next-generation missile defense system that would have an effective operating range of six hundred kilometers against ballistic missile threats and five hundred kilometers for area defense missions. It is generally believed that the system is capable of simultaneously tracking and engaging up to ten ballistic missiles flying at speeds of four km per hour, while being able to counter hypersonic cruise missiles and a wide range of air vehicles without pilot (UAV).

Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National interest.

Image: Russian Ministry of Defense / YouTube


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