Video Above: Russia Has Precision Weapons & Could Avoid Attacking Children & Civilians
The Russian military is announcing the arrival of a new, shorter-range, high-tech complimentary air-defense system capable of supporting the existing S-400s and knocking out incoming ballistic missiles as well as aerodynamic targets.
The Russian government’s TASS news agency calls it the Vityaz S-350 and reports it represents a technical leap forward to support existing air-defences with a closer in envelope reaching altitudes of 30km.
“The S-350 ‘Vityaz’ was engineered by the Almaz-Antey defense manufacturer as a battlefield air defense weapon capable of striking targets within a radius of 60 km and at an altitude of 30 km.
The air defense system is designed to fight both aerodynamic and ballistic targets. An S-350 launcher is outfitted with 12 surface-to-air missiles,” the TASS report says.
The Russian report claims the new S-350 can destroy both “existing and future air attack weapons,” raising an ambiguous yet ambitious claim. Russian papers have claimed that their upgraded S-400 and S-500 air defenses are capable of detecting and striking stealth aircraft, an unverified statement which raises more questions than it answers.
Modern Russian air defenses are believed to be quite advanced, however detecting that an aircraft is simply “there” in the vicinity is quite different from being able to precisely track, target and destroy a moving stealth aircraft.
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It is not clear at all that even the most advanced Russian air defenses can actually engage and destroy US stealth aircraft, not to mention yet-to-exists future applications of stealth such as the emerging B-21 and already airborne 6th-Generation stealth fighter. Both the B-21 and 6th-Gen aircraft are likely to incorporate new, paradigm-changing yet undisclosed stealth characteristics.
Nevertheless, the new Russian system could bring a new layer of defenses to Russia’s air-defense systems and networks, by fortifying longer range tracking interceptors with a more concentrated system which increases the “density of surface to air fire,” as explained by the TASS report.
The S-350 also seems to build upon innovations known to be woven into the S-400 and S-500 Surface-to-air-Systems such as increased networking and data-sharing across otherwise separated fields of view, faster, high-speed computer processing, digital transmission and multi-node target tracking.
"We have developed a good and compact system that performs all of its functions far better than its predecessors. As its fundamental difference from all other similar systems, the Vityaz is capable of quickly aiming its missiles and scanning the space. The weapon can effectively strike both existing and future air attack weapons," the chief executive said in an interview with the National Defense magazine on the occasion of the company’s 20th anniversary, as cited in the TASS report.
The Vityaz also reportedly functions with an anti-jamming technology and large ammunition load, supported by 360-degree sensor fields of view
“The S-350 is compatible with all air defense systems and can get information from other complexes and operate as a second tier posture in conjunction with S-400 air defenses, increasing the density of surface-to-air fire, the chief executive elaborated. "The Vityaz is capable of providing air defense on its own. There are no other medium-range systems with such characteristics in the world," he added.
Should this emerging S-350 function as described by the Russian report, it could cause problems for attacking close-air-support aircraft who might become increasingly vulnerable to highly-networked, lower-altitude surface-fire capable of advanced networking, target sharing and precision attack.
The Russian report did not say when this new system might be operational or specify production plans, so it does not seem clear just how evolved and operational this new system is.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master’s Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University