Russian Southern district to receive S-350 Vityaz air defense system in 2021

The Southern Military District will receive S-350 Vityaz air defense launchers in 2021. The mobile weapon designed to intercept aircraft and cruise missiles will reinforce the south of the country. The units to be rearmed are being chosen.
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S-350 Vityaz air defense system (Picture source: Army Recognition)

In 2019, deputy head of the antiaircraft forces Colonel Yuri Muravkin said S-350 will first go to border and coastal air defense regiments. Central Military District Commander Colonel-General Alexander Lapin said a brigade of the district would be also rearmed with S-350 in 2021. The antiaircraft regiment in Achinsk is to be armed with S-350 by 2025.

S-350 is to replace S-300PS which have exhausted the resource, head of the antiaircraft forces in 2000-2008 Lieutenant-General Alexander Gorkov said. "Vityaz was designed to replace S-300 with PS index. It has a bigger round of munitions, destruction range and jam-resistance. It has to repel massive airstrikes. S-350 is close to medium-range weapons, but can also cover individual military bases, major cities and nuclear power stations. It is highly mobile and can be rapidly redeployed. S-350 can operate autonomously and in an air defense group," he said.

Commander of the 4th air force and defense army of the Southern Military District Nikolai Gostev said the formation leads in new weapons all the formations of the Aerospace Forces. The air defense of the district enjoys priority in modern hardware. The share of new and upgraded airplanes, helicopters and air defense weapons has exceeded 80 percent in late 2019.

"The territory of the district is close to some unfriendly countries to Russia," expert Vladimir Anokhin said. The important Russian region is subject to threats from various directions, both Asian and European. It is necessary to reinforce the southern borders, as intermediate and shorter-range missiles can now be deployed in dangerous proximity," he said. The Defense Ministry said the air defense of the Southern district annually monitors 250 flights of reconnaissance aircraft. NATO warships with cruise missiles regularly sail in the Black Sea. In May, U.S. strategic B-1B Lancer bombers trained over the sea for the first time in many years.

Specific attention was paid to the reinforcement of Crimea. Media reports said at least four battalions on the peninsula had received S-400 since 2014. Pantsir-S batteries defend them. Buk-M3 are supplied to an air defense brigade of the Ground Forces of the district. They have a shorter range and lower firepower than S-350 Vityaz but are mobile, protected and jam-resistant. Wheeled Vityaz is highly mobile and can be deployed in five minutes. The launchers, radars and the command post are located several kilometers from each other and are connected by wireless communications and integrated with S-400 and Pantsir.

Each S-350 battalion has got 12 launchers with 12 missiles each. An active phased antenna array simultaneously monitors several dozen targets. S-350 design began in 2007. Six years later a prototype was demonstrated at MAKS-2013 show. Range trials began in the same year. In April 2019, their successful completion and batch production were announced. The first Vityaz set was handed over to the Defense Ministry at Kapustin Yar range in December 2019.

The state arms program envisages the delivery of 12 S-350 battalions by 2027. In June, the Defense Ministry and Almaz-Antey signed a contract for the production of four Vityaz sets by 2023, the Izvestia said.

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