US military experts would be watching anxiously as Russia is all set to enhance its most advanced S-400 missile system and commission even deadlier S-500 air defense systems often termed as the F-35 killer.
The S-500 is an advanced version of the S-400, which is currently deployed by the Russian army. The S-500 is expected to be deployed alongside S-400 in the coming years.
Aerospace Force Deputy Commander-in-Chief, Lieutenant-General Andrei Yudin, said in an interview with the Defense Ministry’s Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper, that the development work on the S-500 missile system will be completed in 2021, Russian news agency Tass reported.
“It should be noted that the work on developing the S-500 mobile air defense and anti-ballistic missile system is scheduled to be completed in 2021,” the general said.
Also known as the ‘F-35 killer’, the S-500 will feature the 40N6 extended-range guided missile capable of engaging targets up to 155 miles away. It would be able to detect and attack up to 10 ballistic missile warheads flying at speeds of over four miles a second.
Almaz-Antey, a Russian state-owned company that designed the S-500 Prometey ( 55R6M Triumfator-M), claimed the S-500 is capable of shooting down low orbit satellites and certain types of spacecraft in near space.
“The characteristics inherent in the S-500 surface-to-air missile make it possible to destroy… hypersonic weapons of all modifications, including in near space,” Sergei Surovikin, the head of Russia’s Aerospace Forces told the Defense Ministry’s Red Star publication. “The S-500 can be classified as the first generation of space defense systems since in the future it will be able to destroy low-orbit satellites and space weapons,” he added.
Earlier, during the Army 2020 forum in Russia, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov revealed that the S-500 was already undergoing state trials and work was underway to purchase parts for its serial production.
The 30-foot-long two-stage solid-fuel missile will be capable of cruising at nine times the speed of sound, intercepting targets moving at the speed of 15.6 Mach, reported Russian state media outlet, Sputnik.
The S-500 is a supplement to the S-400 and a replacement for A-135 anti-ballistic missile and could render the US missile systems such as the Patriot and THAAD as well as fifth-generation stealth fighters obsolete.
“The S-500 is a blow against American prestige,” Almaz-Antey head engineer Pavel Sozinov told Russian media. “Our system neutralizes American offensive weapons, and surpasses all of America’s much-hyped anti-air and anti-missile systems.”
The S-400 entered service in 2007. Kremlin has never shown any serious intention to replace the S-300 or S-400 with the S-500. It had always been displayed as a different class of air defense system to reliably intercept the most dangerous strategic threats. The S-500s will have a response time of about 3-4 seconds, which is considerably shorter than the S-400 that takes 9-10 seconds.
“With S-400 units still being shipped to anti-aircraft regiments across Russia and exported throughout the world, widely replacing the S-400 with its more expensive S-500 counterpart would be a massive financial and logistical commitment. Whereas the introduction of the S-300 and S-400 is separated by about three decades, this would an abnormally short upgrade cycle of just 10 years,” stated Mark Episkopos writing for The National Interest.