Analysis: The New Russian-Made S-550 Air Defense Missile System | weapons defense industry military technology

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The latest S-550 air defense system is a mobile development of the A-135 Amur and A-235 Nudol strategic air defense and will operate by kinetic interception instead of a nuclear explosion, said TASS military writer Dmitry Litovkin .
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The S-550 could be an improved version of the S-500 which was recently tested by the Russian armed forces. (Image source Youtube account of Russian MoD)


“Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recalled that the Supreme Commander-in-Chief had held another series of meetings in Sochi from November 1-3 with the leadership of the Defense Ministry and defense companies. They considered an adequate response to the development of the situation near the Russian borders. Much attention has been paid to improving the national aerospace defense. The Head of State stressed the importance of the accelerated development of national air and anti-missile defense systems and the supplies of S-350, S-500 and S-550 to the troops, ”the Defense Ministry said.

Commenting on Shoigu’s statement, a source close to the Defense Ministry said that the Russian military will receive the first S-550 by 2025, as envisaged in the weapons program until 2027. A set of brigade must be initially delivered. S-550 will have a mobile launcher.

There is no official confirmation of the information and it will hardly appear anytime soon. However, one can think of the conceptions of the Russian defense industry in the field of strategic missile defense.

Almaz-Antey disclosed the S-500 in a corporate calendar. Its combat capabilities are only made public by the management of the company. So far it is clear that Almaz-Antey has designed the S-400 Triumf, the S-500, the strategic missile defense A-135 Amur and its successor A-235.

Open sources said the S-550 was developed during Soviet times by the Almaz Central Design Bureau under the direction of general designers Boris Bunkin and Alexander Lemansky. They created a short-range interception of strategic targets, such as intercontinental ballistic missile reentry vehicles. Unlike the stationary A-135 deployed around Moscow and protecting the central industrial region (13 regions with an area of ​​486 thousand square kilometers and a population of over 32 million people), the new system must be mobile for a redeployment to dangerous directions similar to S-300/400/500.

The complex was virtually ready by the early 1990s, however, the Soviet collapse halted the project. Open sources said project documentation and full-size prototypes were destroyed.

In 2014, Almaz-Antey designer-general Pavel Sozinov said Russia was creating analogues of American missile defense systems to intercept intermediate-range ballistic missiles and intercontinental missile reentry vehicles. The discussion focused on the S-500, which was to be combined with Moscow’s A-135 missile defense.

“An analogue of the system (US GMD) in a mobile option is also being created in the Russian Federation. It has different characteristics. The Defense Ministry told us to ensure better interception efficiency than that provided by the Americans, ”Sozinov said, adding that prototypes of the complexes would be supplied to the Russian military in the near future.


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Russia has set up the basic space segment of its missile attack early warning system to continuously monitor US territory for possible ballistic missile launches. (Image source Russia MoD)


Russian missile defense system:

Russian missile defense has several levels. The Cosmos and Tundra satellites monitor ballistic missile launches from space. Their mission is to alert on the launch of an intercontinental missile from the ground or by a submarine.

The alarm arrives at the Russian Missile Defense Information Center in Sofrino near Moscow. Experts said it would take 21 minutes for US missiles to get to Moscow. The Don radar will detect them seven minutes before they reach the capital.

Radar detects flying ballistic missiles, tracks them, determines coordinates, analyzes dummy targets, provides guidance to anti-missiles, automatically searches and determines coordinates of space objects, and transmits trajectory data to the space control center.

Don is equipped with large aperture fixed phased active receiving and transmitting antennas with a diameter of 18 meters. The maximum capacity produces a signal of 250 MW to detect an object the size of a tennis ball. The radar can monitor over a hundred targets and accurately guide 52T6 missiles. Voronezh radars supplemented Don to create a full radar field along the national perimeter.

The Russian military operates three radar options: Voronezh-M in the meter band, Voronezh-DM in the decimeter band, and Voronezh-SM in the centimeter band. They are deployed in the Leningrad, Kaliningrad, Krasnoyarsk and Altai regions. Three more radars are to be built in the region of Murmansk, Komi and Sevastopol. These will be Yakhroma radars, which are an upgrade from Voronezh. All speed cameras will operate in a single information field.


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On July 20, 2021, Russia unveiled the S-500 during a live fire test that took place during a training exercise at the Kapustin Yar range, (Russian MoD video image source )


Russia’s early warning system

The Russian Defense Ministry has said that a fully improved early warning system will be deployed by 2030. At present, it covers the entire Russian territory but will increase capabilities by 2030 to fend off the new weapons strikes, which are being created today. They mainly include hypersonic missiles. The early warning system will detect targets via the North Pole. The leadership was the least protected for many years in the USSR and modern Russia.

the S-500 is a mobile air defense missile system based on the chassis of a military truck. The Russian Defense Ministry recently revealed its outlook and showed the launch of a missile in a video. Nothing is known about the S-550, but Litovkin believes it will complement the S-500. It has been reported that the system can destroy reentry vehicles and low orbit satellites. The Russian army has probably decided to divide the functions between the two launchers.

S-550 can be a mobile development of Amur A-135 and Nudol A-235. Unlike the S-500 missiles, the anti-missiles of the A-135 and A-235 are the same size as the ballistic missiles. It can be concluded that unlike the S-500, the launcher will carry one instead of two transport launch containers. The main engine is likely to resemble Yars’s. The 51T6 missile transloader is a six-axle MAZ-547A truck.

In the Soviet Union, re-entry vehicles had to be intercepted over the central industrial zone by an opposing nuclear explosion. S-550 is likely to function differently by kinetic interception.

The United States has been involved in missile defense for years. Russia is probably ready to put such systems into service. The S-550 is probably a development of the A-135, which will be complemented by a new echelon of high-altitude terminal intercept A-235 and its mobile analogue.

Foreign media reported that the first successful test of the missile took place in November 2015. In March 2018, the sixth test of the A-235 took place in Plesetsk for the first time with a mobile launcher.

In January 2019, CNBC television station cited US intelligence sources as saying that a satellite interceptor missile had been successfully tested. In 2020, it was reported that the missile had been accepted into service in Russia.



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