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BMD Focus: S-400 delays Part One

by Martin Sieff
Washington (UPI) Aug 16, 2007
Russia's S-400 anti-missile system is now deployed around Moscow. If it works as claimed, it is the most formidable of its kind in the world. But the very slow deployment timetable announced for it indicates a continuing lack of resources to produce it in the Russian industrial sector.

Russia announced this month that the first battalion of S-400 Triumf air defense missiles has just been made operational and deployed to defend Moscow against aircraft and missile attack.

The Russian government is proud of the S-400 and is displaying its capabilities on the international stage as quickly as it can. RIA Novosti reported Thursday that the S-400 -- NATO codename SA-21 Growler -- will go on show next week at the MAKS 2007 air show outside Moscow on Aug. 21-26.

"MAKS-2007 is an aviation exhibition held every two years in the town of Zhukovsky, which hosts a military airbase. The event is expected to attract over 540 Russian companies and at least 200 foreign firms from over 30 countries this year," the RIA Novosti report said.

"We are planning to display the (S-400) system as a stationary exhibit for both experts and regular visitors," a MAKS-2007 spokesman told the news agency.

The S-400 Triumf was designed by the Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of Russia's older and reliable S-300. The S-300 has been sold to Iran. It does not have the range of the U.S. Patriot against missile systems but is believed effective against un-stealthed aircraft at least up to 30,000 feet.

However, the S-400 is designed to be more effective against stealthed aircraft such as the U.S. B-1 and B-2. And Russian officials claim it has twice the operational rang of the Patriot, currently generally regarded as the finest air defense system in the world against intermediate-range, though not intercontinental-range, ballistic missiles.

RIA Novosti said the S-400 air defense complex successfully passed its live firing tests on July 12-13 at the Kapustin Yar firing range in south Russia's Astrakhan Region.

The Russian news agency said the S-400 system "has been designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers -- 250 miles -- or twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2.5 times that of the (Russian) S-300PMU-2."

"The system is believed to have high capability for destroying stealth aircraft, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles with an effective range of up to 3,500 kilometers -- 2,200 miles -- and a speed of up to 4.8 kilometers -- 3 miles -- per second (10,800 miles per hour)," the report said.

"Experts believe that the ability to intercept and destroy cruise missiles and ballistic missiles makes S-400 Triumf a crucial part of theater missile defenses," it said.

The report noted that a regular Russian S-400 battalion will field at least eight launchers and 32 missiles and a mobile command post.

However, it will be more than seven years before the Russian armed forces can field 24 battalions with the new S-400, Army Gen. Yury Baluyevsky, the chief of staff of the Russian armed forces, acknowledged last week.

"Over two dozen battalions are to be equipped with such systems by 2015," Baluyevsky said during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to an earlier RIA Novosti report published the day after the first S-400 battalion became operational to protect Moscow.

Baluyevsky said the S-400 was "based on new solutions and promising technologies."

"There are almost no such systems in the world," he said. "The system has good prospects for using nanotechnologies, besides others, to increase striking range and height."

But why will it take more than eight years to equip another 23 battalions with the S-400 when the first battalion is already operational?

(Next: The reasons why)

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Russian radar site doesn't fit US missile shield needs: general
Huntsville, Alabama (AFP) Aug 16, 2007
A Russian radar site in Azerbaijan is too close to Iran to serve as a replacement for a planned US missile defense site in eastern Europe, the chief of the US missile defense agency said Thursday.

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