Russia's S-500 - Ultimate missile defense system | Eurasia Diary -

25 February, Thursday

Russia's S-500 - Ultimate missile defense system

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Russian state media have begun leaking some information about the country’s next-generation air and missile defense system, the S-500.

While maintaining that “most of the new system’s technical characteristics remain under question. Sputnik's report revealed some technical characteristics. According to the report, the S-500 “is expected to be able to engage targets at altitudes of over 60 miles,” which is higher than any existing missile defense systems.

Sputnik went on to claim that “sixty miles and more is also the near space zone where the majority of foreign military satellites are now orbiting our planet.” While it is technically true that military satellites are flying at heights of sixty miles or more, most of them are much higher than sixty miles and thus likely outside the S-500’s range.

The Sputnik report went on to say that “the S-500 is expected to able to detect and simultaneously attack up to ten ballistic missile warheads flying at speeds of over 4 miles a second.” It will also have several distinct radar systems geared towards different targets. For example, the system will have different radars to detect planes, helicopters, drones and missiles.

Interestingly, the Sputnik article from this week spends considerable space detailing the capabilities of the 40N6 extended-range guided missile. As the article notes, the 40N6 missile has an enormous range of 400 kilometers (250 miles). Noting that “ground-based radar systems are useless in space.” The report also claims the thirty-foot long missile has a "blast-fragmentation warhead with a range of 310 miles and 95-percent accuracy." Moscow does claim that this missile will be able to engage hypersonic missiles and could be modified to attack satellites. Russia appears to have agreed to sell India and China the 40N6 missile as part of their packages of S-400 missile defense systems.

Russia’s defense industry suffered following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Moscow has continued to churn out quality air and missile defense systems. This is evident from systems like the S-400, S-300VM4 and S-350. Once deployed, the S-500 is expected to be networked with these existing systems to provide an integrated defense system. According to Majumdar, some U.S. defense officials worry that this system will be so capable that it might pose issues for stealthy warplanes like the F-22, F-35 and B-2.

The article was orginally published in The National Interest.

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