No operator: S-350 Vityaz ‘killed’ MiG-29 in fully autopilot mode

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation announced that during the past 24 hours, a Russian air defense system shot down a Ukrainian MiG-29. The combat aircraft was shot down by an S-350 Vityaz in the Grigorivka region of the Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR]. Another 20 Ukrainian drones were shot down, but no mention was made of what weapon type they were eliminated with.

No operator: S-350 Vityaz 'killed' MiG-29 in fully autopilot mode
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Russian media outlet Vzglyad later announced, citing an unnamed source, that the Russian air defense system shot down the Ukrainian MiG-29 in fully automatic mode, without the involvement of an operator. According to Vzryad’s source, the use of the automatic mode of the system occurs for the first time in real combat conditions.

What exactly does the source say?

The S-350 Vityaz system alone made the decisions to detect, track and strike the aerial target, reports Vzglyad. The Vzglyad source says that “the combat crew only controls the decisions made by the complex’s built-in artificial intelligence within the framework of the air combat situation that has arisen, while the operator does not interfere with the operation of the air defense system.”

According to the source, to increase the immunity of the complex in terms of detection and classification of targets, S-350 Vityaz worked simultaneously in active and passive radar mode.

No operator: S-350 Vityaz 'killed' MiG-29 in fully autopilot mode
Photo credit: ainonline

About S-350 Vityaz

It can be said that the S-350 Vityaz is a relatively new Russian air defense system, although its development began at the beginning of the new millennium. It lasted for several years and the first S-350 Vityaz entered service with the Russian anti-missile forces only in 2020. recalls that regarding this project, Russia is far behind in its development. It was planned that Russia would have 30 such systems by 2020, but today there are actually a single-digit number of units.

The S-350 uses the same missile that the S-400 uses – the 9M96. It is an air defense system with a medium range of action. The curious thing about the S-350 Vityaz is that it was developed based on a joint Russian-South Korean project known under the name KM-SAM.

The most common version of the system is with 12 missiles. Depending on the type of missile, the range of the system starts from 12 km and reaches 120 km. The system can simultaneously engage 16 aerodynamic targets and 12 ballistic targets. When intercepting an aerodynamic target, the maximum range of the missile is 120 km. When the ballistic target is intercepted, the maximum range of the missile reaches 30 km. The interception height reaches up to 30 km. The system deploys in 5 minutes.

Integration, deployment

Russia deployed new-gen S-350 Vityaz air defense system in Ukraine
Photo credit: Twitter

Despite the fame of the Russian S-400 air defense system, some Russian experts, including some Western ones, believe that the S-350 Vityaz is the best Russian air defense system put into service. It is also known that Vityaz has its own naval version.

The S-350 Vityaz was first spotted in Ukraine in August 2022. Then a photo made the rounds on social media. It clearly shows the deployment of an S-350 Vityaz battery in the area of a military airport.

The S-350 Vityaz is believed to be a next-generation Russian air defense system. It can also be argued that this is one of the few products produced after the Soviet Union era, ie. Russian air defense system. According to sources, the export version of the S-350E is designed with an open architecture that allows it to be integrated into Western air defense networks. This was officially announced in February of this year by an official representative of the manufacturer of the system – the Almaz-Antey.

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

On 21 February 2022, Russia claimed that Ukrainian shelling had destroyed an FSB border facility. Russia claimed that it had killed 5 Ukrainian soldiers. They tried to cross into Russian territory. Ukraine denied being involved in both incidents and called them a false flag.

Russian S-350E Vityaz can be integrated into Western air defense systems
Photo by Mihail Voskresenskiy

On the same day, the Russian government formally recognized the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR. According to Putin not only in their de-facto controlled areas, but the Ukrainian Oblasts as a whole. Putin ordered Russian troops, including tanks, to enter the regions.

On 24 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine by Russian Armed Forces previously concentrated along the border. The invasion followed by targeted airstrikes of military buildings in the country, as well as tanks entering via the Belarus border.

Russia has so far not recognized the invasion of Ukraine as a “war”, although that is exactly what it is, claiming that it is a “special military operation”. According to the UN, a “special military operation” can only take place after a UN resolution. There is no such resolution. So this is an invasion and war against Ukraine.


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