Russia has carried out target detection training to test the readiness of its S-400 missile defense systems deployed in Crimea against the backdrop of NATO’s Sea Breeze drills in the Black Sea, spokesman for the Black Sea Fleet Capt. 2nd Rank Alexei Rulyov said on Tuesday.
The 2021 edition of the annual Sea Breeze annual military exercise kicked off in the northwestern part of the Black Sea on Monday, with the Russian Navy monitoring the movement of participating ships.
The drills, which involve about 5,000 soldiers and 32 warships from 32 countries, will run through July 10.
“The crews of aircraft and helicopters of the Black Sea Fleet and the air force formation of the Southern Military District conducted training with battalions of the S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems and units of the Pantsir self-propelled missile and gun systems during the readiness check of the duty forces and air defense systems of the Crimean Peninsula,” Rulyov said.
Su-24, Su-27, Su-30SM jets and Mi-8 and Ka-27 helicopters were used as control targets for air defense units.
The NATO-led Sea Breeze exercise has been co-hosted annually by the United States and Ukraine since 1997. The alliance says the exercise provides unique training opportunities to enhance readiness, improve collaboration, and interoperability.
Earlier, the first deputy head of the Russian Federal Service of Military-Technical Cooperation Andrey Boytsov said that Russia is ready to urgently consider the possible supply of S-400 air defense systems and Pantsir-S1 anti-aircraft missile and gun complexes to Belarus if there is a request.
“We are in close contact with our Belarusian colleagues on all issues related to our defense cooperation, and if we receive an application for the supply of S-400 air defense systems and Pantsir-S1anti-aircraft missile and gun systems, it will be considered as soon as possible,” Boytsov told reporters at the MILEX-2021 arms exhibition.
Igor Golub, the commander of the Belarusian air force and air defense force, said earlier that effort is underway to re-equip anti-aircraft missile forces armed with S-300 with new S-400 and Pantsir-S systems.
China was the first foreign buyer of the S-400 missile defense system and made a government-to-government deal with Russia in 2014, while many other nations including Turkey, India have all acquired or on verge of acquiring the lethal systems.
In 2017, the S-400 was described by The Economist as “one of the best air-defense systems currently made” while Siemon Wezeman of SIPRI said it was the most advanced air defense system available in the market.