The Russian military is gearing up to test the first prototypes of its next-generation S-500 Prometey air and missile defense system, which is also known as 55R6M «Triumfator-M».
The weapon is not an upgrade but the fifth (new) generation system, capable of destroying intercontinental ballistic missiles and spacecraft, hypersonic cruise missiles and airplanes at speeds of higher than Mach 5.
The S-500 is expected to be much more capable than the current S-400 Triumph.
For instance, its response time is only 3-4 seconds (for comparison, the response time of S-400 is nine to ten seconds).
The S-500 is able to detect and simultaneously attack (as well as make speeds of up to 4.3 miles per second) up to ten ballistic missile warheads out at 600 km flying at speeds of twenty-three thousand feet per second.
Prometey can engage targets at altitudes of about 125 miles, including incoming ballistic missiles in space at ranges as great as 400 miles.
Experts believe that the systems capabilities can affect enemy intercontinental ballistic missiles at the end and the middle portion.
Some sources report, that the S-500 system can detect ballistic missile at a range of 2000 km and warheads of ballistic missiles at a range of 1300 km.
It makes the system capable of defeating ballistic missiles before their warheads re-enter atmosphere.
Built for «hide, shoot and scoot» operations, the S-500 is expected to be highly mobile and able to rapidly deploy. It will use a network of radars for targeting over vast distances. The missile-defense capable system is expected to use the 91N6A (M) battle management radar, a modified 96L6-TsP acquisition radar, as well as the new 76T6 multimode engagement and 77T6 ballistic missiles engagement radars.
It is also reportedly being designed to use hit-to-kill interceptors.
The system will have new radio communications systems that are unrivaled in terms of quality, data transmission distance and stealth. «Currently, the corporation is developing the next, sixth-generation radio communications resources for completing the various types of military technology, including air-to-surface missile systems – those already present in the armed forces and those that will be in the future», noted a source in Russian defense industry.
The highly protected radio channels will make it immune to eavesdropping.
Prometey is planned to become operational in 2017 with a total of 10 batteries to be ordered. «We expect the first samples of the S-500 anti-aircraft missile system to be delivered soon», Lt. Gen. Viktor Gumyonny, commander of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ air defense troops, told Russian Rossiya-24 TV channel.
The first units will be deployed around Moscow and the country's center area. Totally, 5 batteries of S-500 missiles are to be in service by 2020. The S-500s will be networked with the S-400, S-300VM4 and S-350 and other weapons to create an integrated air-defense network.
The Deputy Commander of the Russian Air Defense Lt. Gen. Sergei Razygraev said that the S-500 will become an element of the national strategic missile defense.
United States defense officials believe that the best stealth warplanes in the Pentagon's arsenal will not be effective against the S-500. As one US industry official noted, «Moscow managed to continue developing advanced air defense system without much degradation in capability. Indeed, some of these new weapons – like the S-500 – are so capable that many US defense official worry that even stealth warplanes like the F-22, F-35 and the B-2 might have problems overcoming them».
It’s not often that a relatively inexpensive air defence weapon is able to make a trillion dollar fighter program obsolete. That’s exactly what the S-500 missile system will do to US brand new F-35 stealth fighter. The F-35 is known to have advanced electronics to enhance its jamming capability. But it won’t shake Prometey off. The S-500 system is designed to overcome countermeasures and stealth, using larger, more powerful radar that is highly resistant to jamming. It also has a set of three missiles of varying range that provide overlapping layers of defense.
Given its extremely long range and effective electronic warfare capabilities, the S-500 is a game-changing weapon that challenges current military capabilities at the operational level of war. This system is unique and unparalleled in the world.