The Russian Armed Forces are proud of the new S-400 air defense system

The first regiment of the S-400 Triumph fifth-generation air defense system was deployed yesterday in the Moscow region. And the Triumph isn’t the only state-of-the-art system being produced by the Russian defense sector.

The first regiment of the S-400 Triumph fifth-generation air defense system was deployed yesterday in the Moscow region. This unique system will defend Moscow – and all of Russia, in future – against air and space threats. And the Triumph isn’t the only state-of-the-art system being produced by the Russian defense sector. In May, President Vladimir Putin announced the start of full-scale rearmament in the Russian Armed Forces. Since the start of the year, 36 new items of modern military hardware have been delivered to the Armed Forces.

The Triumph was tested at the Kapustin Yar range, firing at two targets: a simulated operational-tactical missile (velocity 2.8 kilometers per second) and a Stealth aircraft (altitude 56 kilometers). The S-400 required only one missile to destroy each of these targets.

For the first time in post-Soviet history, Russia has designed and built a new top-grade modern weapon.

“The S-400’s built-in features and reliability enable us to predict that this system will form the foundation of Russia’s air defense and non-strategic missile defense in coming decades,” says Igor Ashurbeili, general director of the Almaz Scientific-Industrial Association, which produces these systems.

The S-400 differs from its predecessors in its greater firepower productivity. The designers have fitted four longer-range missiles into the same standard launch container used by the S-300. The Triumph’s strike range extends almost into orbit – so it can easily be regarded as a major element in constructing a non-strategic missile defense system. It can detect and intercept ballistic missile warheads at velocities of up to three kilometers per second; it can also destroy any modern cruise missile at a low altitude, or a small unpiloted reconnaissance plane at a high altitude. Neither the American Patriot missile system nor the prospective THAAD system are capable of such feats.

As well as being omnivorous, the S-400 has another very important feature. S-400 missiles are launched vertically, then guided and targeted via radio channels once they are already in the air. This greatly reduces the time taken to respond to a threat.

Cruise missiles are among the main attack weapons for any country with substantial armed forces. Launched many kilometers from their targets, they fly according to a program known only to themselves, and strike the opponent when he leasts expects it. Russia is a world leader in missile-building, especially supersonic designs. The United Stated doesn’t have any missiles of this kind, but we have a whole arsenal.

The USSR miscalculated in building aircraft-carriers; when it came to countering the naval might of the United States, the USSR responded with submarines and surface warships armed with long-range cruise missiles. The most powerful of these is called the Granit. It has been installed on nuclear-powered missile-carrying cruisers like the Petr Velikii and nuclear-powered strike submarines. Each vessel carries 24 missiles – each missile the size of a plane, and capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. But that isn’t why the Granit is feared.

The Granit is the first missile of its kind to be equipped with artificial intelligence. After being launced from a submarine or warship, the missile itself identifies its target. Having determined the target cooordinates, each missile waits until the last of its fellow missiles has been launched. Then they line up like a wolf pack and start “hunting” the target. The designers of the Granit (Mashinostroyenie, Moscow region) don’t draw attention to this feature, but it’s true that the missiles themselves will decide which of them will attack the target, and how. The missiles in a “wolf pack” can distribute a number of targets among themselves, rank targets in order of importance, and choose their attack tactics. In order to rule out errors in choosing maneuvers and attack methods, the missile’s on-board computer contains electronic data on all modern warship classes. There are some purely tactical details, such as vessel type. This enables the missiles to decide what they are facing – a convoy, an aircraft-carrying group, a landing group – and attack the major targets within a group.

The Granit’s on-board computer also stores data on countering the opponent’s radio-electronic warfare resources, and tactical maneuvers for avoiding air defense fire.

After destroying the chief selected target, the remaining missiles will immediately redistribute combat tasks among themselves and start destroying other vessels. No ship in the world is capable of escaping an attack by a Granit pack. The Granit’s speed and continual maneuvering over the sea makes it practically impossible to intercept by air defense or aviation.

Mashinostroyenie is now offering the Navy a new model of the Granit: the Onyx anti-ship missile. It is smaller than its predecessor: three Onyx missiles can fit into one Granit launch tube. The Onyx has modern electronics and an improved guidance system and engine. It can be fired from surface vessels, submarines, and Navy aircraft. One Su-33 plane can carry up to three Onyx missiles.