Never-Used-Before Air Defense Claimed to Respond Within 4 Seconds

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For the first time ever, Russia began using its experimental S-500 air defense system that is claimed to have a range of 600 km against ballistic missiles and 500 km against air defenses, which was developed by Almaz-Antey and is used to protect the Kerch Bridge (a key supply line route into southern Ukraine).

With a reported response time of 4 seconds, this weapon could have the capacity to engage targets in low Earth orbit, including satellites. The S-500 has six distinct interconnected components: the 77P6 launch vehicle, 55K6MA and 85Zh6-2 command posts, the 91N6A(M) acquisition and battle management radar, the 96L6-TsP acquisition radar, the 76T6 multimode and 77T6 ABM engagement radars – which are all mounted on BAZ multi-wheeled trucks or trailers.

According to Interesting Engineering, the S-500, (also called Prometheus) has been in development for more than a decade and can fire either the 40N6M missile in the air defense role or the 77N6/77N6-N1 – anti-ballistic/anti-satellite missile. Indeed in April of this year, Russia’s former defense minister Sergei Shoigu said that the S-500 would enter service in 2024, and added that two types of systems would be deployed: anti-missile and anti-aircraft.

The head of Ukraine’s defense intelligence directorate (HUR) Kyrylo Budanov said: “This will, in principle, be an experimental application…. Kerch Bridge is always used, and as long as it’s there, it will be used.” He also claimed the move was “quite expected” since the Kremlin has been moving additional air defense assets on the peninsula to make up for the losses it has been suffering from Ukrainian long-range ATACMS ballistic missile attacks, as was reported by the Kyiv Post.

It is important to note that the Russian industry has been struggling to source the precision electronics it would need to produce hit-to-kill missiles, so while the prototype S-500 has test-fired at least one 77N6 missile, it currently carries a warhead, which is not a hit-to-kill missile.