Sebastien Roblin, National Interest: Russia's S-500: The Ultimate Weapon against American Missiles or Paper Tiger?
Moscow has long been preoccupied with the threat posed by NATO airpower, and has fielded a variety of potent long-range surface-to-air missile systems over the years to counter it, including at the high end the S-300 (SA-10 and SA-12) and S-400 (SA-21). But the primary role of its latest design, the Almaz-Antey S-500 “Triumfator,” isn’t taking potshots at frontline fighter planes. Rather, the S-500 marks a new Russian effort to develop its own defense “shield” against cruise and ballistic missile attack.
Moscow has claimed the S-500 will enter service in 2016 or 2017 and has offered an impressive-seeming list of its capabilities. Appropriately nicknamed “Prometey”—Prometheus—the S-500 supposedly will have a maximum vertical altitude of 185 to two hundred kilometers, permitting it to swat down incoming Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles and low-orbit satellites in space. The Triumfator would also have a maximum range of six hundred kilometers, even further than the four-hundred-kilometer range of the S-400. Russian Air Force Commander Colonel General Viktor Bondarev claimed the S-500 would be able to engage up to ten missiles at the same time, with a reaction speed of three to four seconds—compared to six missiles and nine-second reaction times for the S-400.
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WNU Editor: On paper this Russian weapon system looks impressive .... but will it deliver? My guess is that many of these questions will only be answered in a few years.