Aug 21, 2022
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Forum “Army-2022”: S-500 “Prometheus” goes to the troops

In the photo: the S-500 anti-aircraft missile system (SAM) performs live test firing at a high-speed ballistic target at the Kapustin Yar training ground.  The S-500 air defense system has no analogues in the world

In the photo: the S-500 anti-aircraft missile system (SAM) performs live test firing at a high-speed ballistic target at the Kapustin Yar training ground. The S-500 air defense system has no analogues in the world (Photo: Press service of the RF Ministry of Defense / TASS)

The good news that came from the International Military-Technical Forum “Army-2022” was the information about the signing of a contract by JSC Concern VKO Almaz-Antey for the supply of the Russian Defense Ministry with long-range air defense systems S-500 “Prometheus”, created using the principle separate solution of tasks for the destruction of aerodynamic and ballistic targets.

Back in August last year Yuri Borisovwho then held the position of Deputy Prime Minister, announced the start of mass production of this air defense system, and two months later the first S-500 brigade set was on combat duty as part of the 15th Special Forces Army of the Russian Aerospace Forces. What is known today about this promising new generation anti-aircraft missile system, which, moreover, has no analogues in the world?

He expressed his expert opinion on the role of “Prometheus” in the air and missile defense of Russia. Sergey Khatylevreserve colonel, who previously held the position of head of the anti-aircraft missile forces of the air defense of Moscow (Special Purpose Command): “One of the key features of the S-500 air defense system should be considered a narrow specialization of guidance and detection tools. When one radar group operates on objects whose flight path passes outside the earth’s atmosphere, the other works out traditional aerodynamic targets (cruise missiles and aircraft). This makes it possible to position the Prometheus as a characteristic representative of a class of anti-space weapons capable of neutralizing a target at altitudes up to two hundred and ranges up to six hundred kilometers.

Noteworthy is the fact that the developer managed to solve a complex of extremely complex tasks. For example, such as organizing the production of a modern locator based on active phased array antennas (PARs), which surpass their “passive counterparts” in several key parameters at once: reliability, detection range and combat effectiveness.

In addition to ballistic and intercontinental missiles, Prometheus is able to effectively intercept generation 5 and 5+ stealth fighters, strategic bombers of all generations, as well as AWACS aircraft. The Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation formulated his opinion on the functional potential of the new air defense system very succinctly V. V. Putin: “Prometheus is capable of working on targets at super-high altitudes, including in near space.”

However, the capabilities of the S-500 are not limited to this. The system has the technical potential necessary for the formation of a single information network with the air defense and missile defense systems already in service. In other words, Prometheus is able to effectively perform the functions of a combat control system that automatically distributes detected targets between air defense elements.

The S-500 Prometheus anti-aircraft missile system includes:

  1. Combat control point (85Ж6−1);
  2. Early warning radar (60K6);
  3. Anti-aircraft unit, consisting of a command post (55K6MA), radar (91N6AM), launcher (51P6M) and missiles (40N6M).
  4. The anti-missile part, which includes: a combat control center (85Zh6-2), a radar with an active phased array (76T6 or 77T6), a launcher (77P6) and anti-missiles (77N6-N1, 77N6-N).

Most analysts, evaluating the Prometheus, note its ability to effectively destroy air targets at altitudes of about 200 km, which allows it to be positioned as a means of destruction and low-orbit spacecraft.

In the photo: the latest anti-aircraft missile system (ZRS) S-500
In the photo: the latest anti-aircraft missile system (ZRS) S-500 (Photo: Press service of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation)

Technical characteristics of the S-500 “Prometheus” air defense system (55R6M “Triumfator-M”):

  • platform type – mobile;
  • maximum target detection radius, km – 800;
  • combat radius, km – 60;
  • the number of missiles, pieces – 2−4;
  • speed (maximum) of the target being hit, km / s – 7;
  • height (maximum) of target destruction, km – 200.

The promising horizons of the S-500 Prometheus air defense system are noticeably wider than other, earlier samples of the products of Almaz-Antey Concern VKO JSC. Its fundamental difference is that its creation was not caused by the need to replace anti-aircraft missile systems of previous generations. The purpose of its development was nothing more than their harmonious addition. “Prometheus” is obliged to occupy a niche that is empty today, designated between military air defense and strategic air defense and missile defense.

The developer of this project initially meant close interaction between the S-500 Prometheus and the long-range and medium-range air defense systems currently in service: the S-300 Favorit, the S-400 Triumph and the A-135 Amur. By the way, it is the latter defense system that provides anti-missile cover for Moscow and the Central Industrial Region of the Russian Federation. A feature of the new anti-aircraft system should be considered a very narrow “specialization” of all its components. If in the S-400 “Triumph” the defeat of different types of targets is ensured by means of an expanded range of missiles, then the S-500 solves the problem of detecting different objects using specialized radars.

Naturally, the unique technical features of the “Prometheus” are not without close attention of the Western military, analysts and experts. Back in mid-2018, CNBC published information allegedly obtained from sources well acquainted with the reports of the US Central Intelligence Agency, and indicating the successful completion of the Russian program of secret tests of a new air defense system.

As a result, according to the American TV channel, Prometheus hit a target located at a distance of 481 kilometers. That exceeded the results of previous shootings by almost eighty kilometers and could not leave indifferent the CNBC military observer, who emphasized that the functionality of the advanced anti-aircraft missile system significantly expands Russia’s potential capabilities in delivering simultaneous and accurate strikes against several targets.

In addition, the channel’s journalists drew the audience’s attention to the unique ability of ground-based air defense systems to carry out guaranteed interception of not only modern Western-made combat aircraft (F-22, F-35), but also hypersonic missiles, which, however, the collective West cannot teach to fly. .

The S-500 Prometheus air defense system is capable of intercepting ICBMs in any part of its ballistic trajectory, including the most complex space trajectory, where the target’s flight speed can reach several kilometers per second.

No less valuable is the fact that the S-500 is capable of using not only new, hitherto unused missiles, but also the combat arsenal of its predecessor, the S-400 Triumph. For example, the 40N6M missile with a confirmed combat range of 380 kilometers. Or, developed on the basis of the 77N6-N atmospheric interception anti-missile and having a low-yield nuclear warhead, which makes it possible to destroy space satellites in low orbits, the 77N6-N1 missile. Created, by the way, specifically for the S-500.

The American magazine The National Interest, authoritative in military and expert circles, published an article by Sebastien Roblin, in which the author revealed the key, from his point of view, goals of the promising Russian S-500 Prometheus air defense system.

First, he positions the creation of a reliable missile defense shield as the main function of the latest Russian complex. Moreover, he is sure that it (by analogy with the American THAAD mobile ground-based anti-missile system) should implement the concept of kinetic interception.

The term “kinetic interception” denotes a method of hitting an air target, based on the use of the kinetic energy of the anti-missile hardware unit when it hits the target directly.

According to Roblen, the high speed of the rockets of the latest Russian air defense system (about 5-7 m / s) is able to ensure high efficiency in intercepting enemy missiles.

Secondly, he believes that the long detection range of the S-500 allows it to be classified as an “ideal weapon”, capable of successfully countering both large and minimally visible targets. Obviously, to destroy, for example, the fifth-generation Lockheed / Boeing F-22 Raptor fighter at the longest possible distances, you will have to work hard, but AWACS aircraft (AWACS) or electronic warfare vehicles will be permanently in the danger zone. Otherwise, they will have to function outside the radius of destruction of the Prometheus.

As a summary: the launch of the S-500 in a series and its large-scale delivery to combat units allow us to seriously talk about the formation of a regional missile defense by Russia. And the permanent growth of production of “Prometheus” and its improvement – about the formation of a highly effective anti-missile defense of the country.

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