Russia to deploy more S-400 air-defense battalions in 2010

Russia is to deploy another five air-defense battalions equipped with advanced S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems next year, the Air Force commander said on Thursday.

"So far we have two S-400 battalions," Col. Gen. Alexander Zelin said, adding both were deployed just outside Moscow.

"In 2010, we are due to get enough S-400s to equip another five battalions."

He said, however, that would depend on "our industry's capabilities."

Gen. Nikolai Makarov, the chief of General Staff, said in August Russia had deployed S-400 air systems in the Far East to counter the potential threat posed by N. Korea's missile tests.

However, to date, his statement has not been confirmed. Some military commentators have suggested the general "jumped the gun" and "was trying to pass off his wishful thinking for reality."

The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at distances of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and two-and-a-half times that of Russia's S-300PMU-2.

The system is also believed to be able to destroy stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is effective at ranges of up to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and speeds of up to 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) per second.

A regular S-400 battalion comprises at least eight launchers with 32 missiles and a mobile command post, according to various sources. The new state arms procurement program until 2015 stipulates the purchase of enough S-400 air defense systems to arm 18 battalions during this period.

[Source: RIA Novosti, Moscow, 26Nov09]

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