Russia is currently developing the S-500 mobile surface-to-air missile system, which was announced to be deployed in 2013. The S-500 will be an upgraded version of the S-400. It will fulfill air defense and ballistic missile defense missions.
It is currently being developed to have the capability of destroying supersonic aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. While the S-400 is designed to defend against short and medium range missiles, the S-500 will be designed to combat intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM). What remains a source of conjecture, however, is the kind of interception the S-500 missiles will use. In 2011, General Director of the Almaz-Antey corporation Igor Ashurbeili said that for the interception of ballistic missiles, the S-500 will “mostly” use nuclear warheads because these can destroy “the entire cloud of incoming warheads with no need to determine true threats from dummies.” 1 At the same time, reports about the new interceptors, the 77N6-N and 77N6-N1, suggest that system will employ hit-to-kill.
Since it is still in development, little is known about the S-500 system. The system is expected to be capable of simultaneous engagement with up to 10 targets at a maximum range of 600 km. The S-400 can only handle a maximum of six targets up to a range of 400 km.2 The S-500’s interceptors will operate at an altitude higher than 185km. The system will have a response time of about three to four seconds, which is considerably shorter than the S-400 which is rated at nine to ten seconds. 3
Two new missiles have been designed for the S-500 (and the S-400): the 77N6-N and the 77N6-N1. They were reported to be capable of direct engagement with targets flying at hypersonic speeds (seven kilometers per second). However, it is not clear when the 77N6-N and the 77N6-N1 enter service given that facilities for their production have yet to be built. The agreed timeframe for the missiles’ delivery was reported to be early 2014. According to Izvestia, the new plants in Kirov and Nizhniy Novgorod will cost 41.6 and 39.5 billion rubles respectively.4
The S-500 is expected to use the following radars: the 91N6A(M) acquisition and battle
management radar, the revised 96L6-TsP acquisition radar, and the new 76T6 multimode
engagement and 77T6 ABM engagement radars.5
According to information given by former Chief Designer and General Director of the Almaz-Antey corporation Igor Ashurbeili in 2011, the S-500’s replacement will be air-based and is “already being developed and tested.”6
- Pavel Felgenhauer, “Moscow’s BMD Cooperation Demands Do Not Seem Serious,” Eurasia Daily Monitor 8, no. 111, accessed March 17, 2013, http://www.jamestown.org/
single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews% 5Btt_news%5D=38030. ↩
- Von Rosenbach, Alexander. “World Air Forces.” Jane’s World Air Forces. January 28, 2013. (accessed February 1, 2013 ↩
- “Russia to Put First S-500s in Service in 2013,” Xinhua General News Service, June 27, 2012, sec. World News; Military, accessible in LexisNexis. ↩
- Aleksey Mikhaylov, “Plants To Manufacture Hypersonic Missiles To Cost R81 Billion. Defense Ministry Will Construct Two Major Plants To Supply Projectiles for Surface-to-Air Missile Complexes – One in Kirov and One in Nizhniy Novgorod,” Izvestia, November 28, 2012, supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring; accessible in LexisNexis. ↩
- Carlo Kopp and Bill Sweetman, “Russian Revival,” Aviation Week & Space Technology, March 2012. ↩
- “Russia Stops Production of Legendary S-300 Anti-missile Systems,” August 20, 2011, accessible in LexisNexis. ↩