Russia’s S-500 missile defense system

S-500 missile

The S-500 is a new generation surface-to-air missile system. It is designed to intercept and destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles as well as hypersonic cruise missiles and aircraft for air defense. It will have a range of 600 km (370 mi) for anti-ballistic missiles (ABM) and 400 km for air defense. The S-500 missile will be capable of detecting and simultaneously destroying 10 ballistic hypersonic targets flying at a speed of 5-7 km per second. It also has the target of destroying hypersonic cruise missiles as well as aerial objects flying up to the speed of Mach 5. This missile can only destroy objects at an altitude of 180–200 km (110–120 mi). In total, it can also destroy long-range missiles with a range of 3500 km (2,200 mi).

S-500 History

Although sharing a similar designation with the S-500U project of the 1960s, the relationship between the two remains unclear. The S-500U multichannel anti-aircraft system was a 1968 initiative by the Soviet Air Defence Forces, Soviet Navy, Ministry of the Radio Industry (Ministerstvo Radio Promyshlennosti SSSR), and Ministry of the Shipbuilding Industry to create a unified complex for the National Air Defence Troops, navy and ground troops. Missiles of the S-500U complex were supposed to engage enemy aircraft at a range up to 100 km (62 mi). The S-500U SAM complex project was rejected by the Soviet Army, which had a requirement to engage not only enemy aircraft, but also short-range ballistic missiles. Consequently, the S-300 family (SA-10 and SA-12) was developed instead.

In 2009, the system was in the design stage at Almaz-Antey and had been planned to be completed in 2012. In February 2011, it was announced that the first S-500 units should be in serial production by 2014. Two production plants to produce the S-500 were to be built by 2013, with first deliveries then scheduled for 2015 or 2017. According to the original plans, ten S-500 missile battalions were to be purchased for the Russian Aerospace Defense (VKO) under the State Armament Programme 2020 (GPV-2020).

The S-500s will work in parallel with the S-400s and are planned to together replace the S-300 missile systems. The first units are planned to be deployed around Moscow and the country’s central area. A naval version is a likely armament for the new Lider-class destroyer, which is to enter service after 2020.

CEO of Rostec Corporation Sergey Chemezov declared the beginning of S-500 production on 30 June 2019. Despite that, serial production of the first 10 systems (ordered in late 2020) only began in 2021.

S-500 Testing

In May 2018, Russia conducted the longest range surface-to-air missile test to date with the S-500 missile . According to reports citing unnamed sources familiar with U.S. intelligence on the program, the S-500 was able to hit a target 482 km (300 mi) away, which is 80 km further than the previous record.

On 4 June 2019, the Russian Ministry of Defense posted a video showing the successful launch of a new anti-ballistic missile system in the form of a long-range surface-to-air missile. Though the nature of the air defense system which was being tested was not mentioned it has been widely speculated to have been a test of the S-500 Prometheus long-range surface to air missile system.

The operational history of S-500

The first S-500 regiment went on combat duty in Moscow on 13 October 2021. Passed state tests and took up combat duty.

Information about S-500

The S-500 is designed for intercepting and destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as hypersonic cruise missiles and aircraft, for air defense against Airborne Early Warning and Control and for jamming aircraft.[citation needed] With a planned range of 600 km (370 mi) for anti-ballistic missile (ABM) and 500 km (310 mi) for air defense, the S-500 would be able to detect and simultaneously engage up to 10 ballistic hypersonic targets flying at a speed of 5 kilometers per second (3.1 mi/s; 18,000 km/h; 11,000 mph) to a limit of 7 km/s (4.3 mi/s; 25,000 km/h; 16,000 mph). It also aims at destroying hypersonic cruise missiles and other aerial targets at speeds higher than Mach 5, as well as spacecraft.[citation needed] The altitude of a target engaged can be as high as 180–200 km (110–120 mi).[citation needed] It is effective against ballistic missiles with a launch range of 3,500 km (2,200 mi), the radar reaches a radius of 3,000 km (1,300 km for the EPR 0,1 square meter). Other targets it has been announced to defend against include: unmanned aerial vehicles, low Earth orbit satellites, space weapons launched from hypersonic aircraft, and hypersonic orbital platforms.

The system will be highly mobile and will have rapid deployability. Experts believe that the system’s capabilities can affect enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles at the middle and end portions of the flight, but reports by Almaz-Antey say that the external target-designation system (RLS Voronezh-DM and missile defense system A-135 radar Don-2N) will be capable of mid-early flight portion interceptions of enemy ballistic missiles, which is one of the final stages of the S-500 project. It is to have a response time of fewer than 4 seconds (Compared to the S-400’s less than 10).

S-500 Components

The S-500 will consist of:

  • 77P6 launch vehicle, based on the BAZ-69096 10×10 truck
  • 55K6MA and 85Zh6-2 command posts, based on BAZ-69092-12 6×6
  • 91N6A(M) acquisition and battle management radar, a modification of the 91N6 (Big Bird) towed by the BAZ-6403.01 8×8 tractor
  • 96L6-TsP acquisition radar, an upgraded version of the 96L6 (Cheese Board) on BAZ-69096 10×10
  • 76T6 multimode engagement radar on BAZ-6909-022 8×8
  • 77T6 ABM engagement radar on BAZ-69096 10×10

The type of missiles used, especially for the long-range ABM/ATBM role, has not been disclosed yet. It is likely to be a derivative of the SA-12B Giant two-stage ATBM, since the 77P6 launch vehicle is originally meant to carry 2 containers for the SA-12B. The other missiles, to be used against classical airborne targets, are likely to be the same as in the S-400 system.

S-500 Export

  • In September 2021, Deputy PM of Russia Yury Borisov said that India could be a prospective, and probably the first, S-500 missile   customer.
  • Also, according to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey is ready to consider possible S-500 purchases in the future.

What about the S-500?

A top official, who wished to remain anonymous, explained to Financial Express Online, “It is too early to discuss this as the first regiment of S-400 is in the process of being delivered to India. Delivery will be completed by 2023. A decision will be taken only after that.”

When was the contract for the S-400 made?

It was signed in 2018 when Russian President Vladimir was in India for the annual India-Russia Annual Summit.

S-400 vs S-500

Based on information available in the public domain, the air defense system that India is now receiving has an operational range of 400 km, and the new variant S-500 missile can target ballistic missiles from a range of about 600 km.

Reports in the public domain stated that the S-500 can target hypersonic missiles, thus giving it an edge over the S-400. Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) is working on hypersonic missiles and will have them ready by 2024. The S-500 missile also can target American fighters, including the B-2, F-35 stealth aircraft, and the F-22.

S-500 missile

How is Russia’s S-500 missile defence system superior to S-400?

After acquiring the S-400 missile defence system from Russia, India may now buy the S-500 Prometey surface-to-air missile defence system.

Can the S500 intercept a hypersonic missile?

Its purpose is to destroy hypersonic cruise missiles and other air targets at speeds exceeding March 5, as well as spacecraft. The altitude of an engaged target can range from 180–200 km (110–120 mi).

What is the S500 Missile Defense System?

The S500 is Russia’s most advanced new generation surface-to-air missile system capable of intercepting Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). It can also target hypersonic cruise missiles and intercept ballistic missiles within a range of 600 km.

Does Russia have the S500 missile ?

In July this year, the S500 air defense system was successfully tested against a ballistic target at Kapustin Yar, Russia. The S400 has been in service since April 2007. It has an operational range of 400 km.

What is the difference between S400 and S500 missile?

Difference Between S400 and S500

It has an operational range of 400 km. Whereas the S500 missile is a more sophisticated version that can target ballistic missiles from a distance of 600 km as compared to only 60 km by the S400. The S500 missile can target hypersonic missiles and this gives it an edge over the S400.


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