Russia’s S-500 system aces anti-hypersonic trial, Russia says

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The S-500 Prometheus air defense system, overseen by the Russian Armed Forces, was recently tested to evaluate its ability to engage hypersonic targets. This was announced by the Russian Ministry of Defense in an official statement to Izvestia. 

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This system proved its efficiency in both detecting and eliminating such advanced targets. The capability isn’t merely restricted to conventional hypersonic missiles, but it also covers futuristic models. This success in testing is particularly significant because there are complex challenges related to managing hypersonic entities. As experts highlighted, these objects are strenuous to detect and are only picked up by radars when timing is crucial, which significantly heightens the stakes.

Hypersonic is not an obstacle

“Prometheus”, the S-500 anti-aircraft missile system, has successfully demonstrated its ability to strike hypersonic targets during various stages of tests. The information comes from sources in the military department who spoke with Izvestia. Broadly speaking, these targets resemble Russia’s strategic hypersonic aircraft, Avangard, as well as simpler missile forms. Impressively, Prometheus has proven its capability in not just tracking, but also intercepting, these swift-moving objectives. 

It has been reported that earlier, the military department noted a missile launch from the Northern Fleet’s nuclear missile submarine, “Tula.” Positioned in the frigid Laptev Sea, the submarine targeted the Chizha training ground. The exercise was designed to strike one or more land-based targets. This event marked a milestone in conducting a successful military-technical experiment, aimed at testing the S-500 “Prometheus” anti-aircraft missile system, according to the Defense Ministry. An inquiry has been sent to the department for more detailed information.

The S-500 counters hypersonic weapons

Dmitry Kornev, an editor at Portal MilitaryRussia, asserts that the S-500 is exceptionally versatile. Its capabilities range from combating intercontinental ballistic missile warheads, which travel at hypersonic speeds, to effectively managing guided warheads and systems with shorter ranges.  

Photo credit: Izvestia

Additionally, Kornev emphasizes the S-500’s proficiency in controlling the S-400. When working in tandem, these systems are capable of eliminating virtually any airborne and aerospace threats. Essentially, the S-500 also referred to as Prometheus, can intercept a wide array of missiles. This includes everything from short-range systems to intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as hypersonic guided units and hypersonic missiles traveling at high speeds at relatively low altitudes.

The S-500 has nothing to take down

Nevertheless, it’s fair to assert that such systems remain a rarity, making it unclear what the S-500 would specifically target, as indicated by our experts. After all, the U.S. is just starting to test deployments of this type of ground-based missile. 

Our expert, Dmitry Kornev, suggests that the effectiveness of Prometheus against hypersonic targets probably arises from cutting-edge radars synchronized with an advanced computational matrix. This enables real-time data processing from the radars, delivering crucial information to the launchers and guaranteeing accurate guidance. He also asserts the requirement for agile missiles capable of high-speed flight – the only plausible method for successfully engaging hypersonic entities. 

“The challenge lies in tracking and intercepting targets of decreased size and unique shape, necessitating potent radar capabilities,” explains Kornev. 

He further states that traditional ballistic missiles can be detected from around two thousand kilometers away, giving the anti-aircraft system plenty of time to calculate its trajectory. Hypersonic targets, however, do not follow a high ballistic trajectory but instead cruise the atmospheric borderline. Detection ranges may only encompass 300-500 kilometers instead of the usual two thousand. Consequently, reaction times are substantially diminished, necessitating rapid computational evaluation of its projected path and the launch of multiple missiles for a decisive, fail-safe takedown – a challenge that heightens complexity if the object displays maneuverability.

Modern and efficient

One of the most secretive inventions in our domestic defense industry is the S-500 Prometheus air defense system. Despite its stealthy development, the official characteristics of the system have not been disclosed. News of its existence surfaced in media outlets in 2009, even though its creation had been underway long before then. By 2022, reports began detailing the commencement of its deliveries to military troops

Imagine a contraption engineered to decimate ballistic missiles, with the capability to neutralize targets propelling at hypersonic speeds. That is what “Prometheus” offers. But, there’s more to it. This wheeled leviathan has the functionality to be stationed aboard military transport aircraft, providing a swift and efficient way to reinforce air and missile defense at any required location.

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S-500’s ammunition

The arsenal of Prometheus includes a diverse array of missiles. To combat aerodynamic targets, it deploys the 40N6 missile, currently in use on the S-400. For destroying ballistic missiles in the extra-atmospheric region and near space, the 77N6 missile, armed with both conventional and special warheads, is reportedly in service. 

Consider the S-500 as a complimentary addition, not a replacement, for the contemporary S-400 air defense systems. It’s designed to protect essential national administrative and industrial centers. This air defense system can employ the ultra-long-range ammunition of the S-400 already in service to eliminate aircraft from distances exceeding 400 km. 

The S-500 system comprises several key components: a combat control station, a long-range detection radar, an anti-aircraft mechanism, an aviation division, an anti-missile unit, and a launcher.

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