The Russian Aerospace Forces will protect cities and important facilities with “anti-aircraft transformers.” The Defense Ministry made a fundamental decision to modify the S-400 Triumph and S-300 air defense systems, sources in the military department told Izvestia. Now their launchers in battle will be able to hit targets simultaneously with several types of missiles – both ultra-long-range and short-range missiles with high maneuverability. The choice of ammunition will be possible depending on the tactical situation. Currently, the S-300 and S-400 are equipped with only one pre-selected type of missile. To change it, the combat vehicle must be withdrawn from position and reloaded. The improved systems will radically increase the capabilities of the domestic air defense system and allow the creation of echeloned defense to defeat any targets, experts say.
The modernization will affect the newest versions of the S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems (SAM), which are now in the army – the S-300PM. Medium-range ammunition with active homing heads will expand the capabilities of systems equipped with conventional 48N6 and ultra-long-range 40N6. The use of such a kit has already been tested at the 185th Center for Combat Training and Combat Use of the Russian Aerospace Forces. Instead of each transport and launch container, it will be possible to install four medium-range 9M96 missiles with smaller dimensions.
For “Triumphs” improvements will require an early release installation. New and export versions already have the ability to combine ammunition. Recently, the Turkish Ministry of Defense has distributed photographs from the preparatory stage for the exercises, which are supposed to use the S-400. On one of the transport launchers, two types of anti-aircraft missiles of different ranges are visible simultaneously.
Anti-aircraft position: the military combined air defense systems into a single contour At the Kavkaz-2020 exercise, air defense units of the Ground Forces, the Aerospace Forces and the Navy worked together
The combination of different ammunition on one launcher will make it possible to use missiles more rationally, said Aytech Bizhev, ex-deputy head of the Air Force for the CIS Joint Air Defense System.
“Such a system is needed in order not to waste expensive ammunition on less important targets,” he told Izvestia. – The decision to use one or another type of missile is made depending on the range and class of the air target. Why use long-range ammunition at 50 km when the target can be shot down with a melee missile? For the destruction of a light aircraft or strategic bomber, it is also desirable to have different means. Well, when there is a massive raid, missiles of all ranges will come in handy. Technically, it is not difficult to implement such a project. The control system is the same, only the cruise engines and warheads are different.
Semi-active homing heads were used on old complexes, added Aytech Bizhev. When the target was irradiated with radar, the rocket saw the reflected signal and followed it. With an active head, it is more independent. Such ammunition has higher guidance reliability and the probability of destroying the target is close to 99%.
Now, to intercept small targets, such as helicopters or drones, the S-400 regiments include batteries of Pantsir anti-aircraft missile and cannon systems. They guard long-range systems on the march and in positions, increase their fire performance and allow you not to waste heavy long-range missiles on low-priority targets. As part of the units armed with the S-300, there are no such units.
The 9M96 rocket is just beginning to appear en masse among the troops, although it has been in development since the late 1990s. Already at the initial stage, it was decided to make a universal interspecific ammunition out of it, which can be equipped with both ships and land complexes. The possibility of using them from aircraft was also considered.
Now they are used by the newest medium-range systems S-350 “Vityaz”, serial deliveries of which to the Aerospace Forces began this year, and the shipborne air defense systems “Polyment-Redut” – they are installed only on the most modern combat units of the fleet – frigates of project 22350 and corvettes of projects 20380 and 20385.
Waiting for “Triumph”: the Volga region and the Urals will cover the newest S-400 Regiments defending Samara and Yekaterinburg will be re-equipped with modern air defense systems
The family of these missiles is represented by two main variants. The basic version of the 9M96 has a range of 40 km and an altitude reach of 20 km. The 9M96M, completely unified with it in terms of dimensions and warhead, due to a more powerful engine, is capable of hitting air targets for 120 km and at an altitude of 35 km. These characteristics also allow them to intercept short-range ballistic missiles.
9M96 have a mixed guidance system. Immediately after the launch, an inertial one is used with the possibility of radio correction from the anti-aircraft complex in the main flight phase. When entering the target area, its own radar in the homing head turns on, which searches for the target on its own. This allows you to hit objects that are beyond the direct radio line of sight of the air defense missile system. This possibility is relevant for protection against objects flying at low altitudes, such as cruise missiles.
In 2018, the Ministry of Defense announced the adoption of a new long-range missile 40N6. With it, the reach of the S-400 and the latest modifications of the S-300 reached 380 km in range and 35 km in height.
With modernized complexes, even one S-300PM or S-400 anti-aircraft battalion will be able to build an echeloned air defense, said the former head of the anti-aircraft missile forces of the Russian Air Force, Alexander Gorkov.
“The air defense group, including anti-aircraft missile troops, performs a dual task: it covers the object and defends itself,” the expert told Izvestia. – For this she needs different types of missiles. If the unit receives medium-range ammunition, which can be placed several times more, then it will be able to solve a whole range of tasks. At first, the complexes will destroy targets at distant approaches – up to 400 km. Then build up fire with other missiles with a range of 250 km. And the main power of the fire will be concentrated on targets at a distance of up to 150 km.
The use of several types of missiles simultaneously from one launcher is becoming the norm for other domestic air defense systems. In 2020, the Pantsir-SM combat vehicle was publicly demonstrated for the first time with new, reduced in size and range, missiles specifically designed to intercept small cheap drones and unguided rockets.