Saturday, August 25, 2007

Samoderzhets Decloaked


The introduction of the S-400 strategic SAM system into the operational inventory of the Russian air defense network has resulted in increased speculation over the nature of the next-generation of Russian SAM systems. One of the most common misconceptions appears to be the belief that a new SAM system referred to as Samoderzhets is being prepared for front-line service.


The development of the next generation of Russian SAM systems can be traced back to 1979 when the first S-300PT batteries were accepted for service. Over the course of the S-300P's lifetime, various modifications have surfaced, each providing an incremental increase in capability over the last variant.

The principal S-300P variants were as follows:

S-300PT: Initial trailer-launched SAM system employing 5N63 (FLAP LID) target engagement radar (TER) and 5V55K missile.

S-300PS: Initial mobile SAM system with components mounted on 8x8 chassis, introduced 5N63S/30N6 (30N6E) TER and 5V55R missile.

S-300PM (export variant: S-300PMU): Introduced digital connectivity between components and 5V55RUD missile.

S-300PM-1 (export variant: S-300PMU-1): Introduced new 30N6-1 (30N6E1, TOMB STONE) TER, and 48N6 (48N6E) missile.

S-300PM-2 (export variant: S-300PMU-2): Introduced 48N6D (48N6E2) missile, as well as 9M96 (9M96E) and 9M96D (9M96E2) missiles, although there is no evidence that the latter two weapons have been fielded with Russian units.

S-300PM-3: developmental variant aimed at increased range with 48N6DM missile and new TER (GRAVE STONE). Evolved into the S-400 (SA-X-21).

As early as 1984, two other advanced SAM systems were stated to be in development, the S-500 and S-1000. The S-500 was a new long-range, mobile ATBM system, analogous to the American THAAD system currently in development. The S-1000 was described as a very long-range SAM designed to target air-breathing targets such as ISR platforms and other support aircraft. Where the S-300P was the successor to the S-25 (SA-1 GUILD) in the Moscow air defense network, the S-1000 was possibly intended to be deployed as a partial replacement for the S-200 (SA-5 GAMMON); S-300P units have replaced S-200 units in some areas, but only the most recent iterations can claim to have a range anywhere near that of the massive 300 kilometers attained by the S-200. Neither the S-500 nor the S-1000 were anywhere near operational service, as they only existed as concepts throughout the 1980s. Recent analysis would seem to suggest, however, that both systems will eventually be operationally employed, with at least one of them being mentioned by name as recently as August 2007.

It is likely that the S-1000 has actually been absorbed into the S-400. The intended capabilities of the S-1000 seem to match up with the S-400's 40N6 missile, a product of OKB Fakel, who has historically been responsible for the development of long-range strategic SAM missiles such as the 5V21 employed by the S-200 and the 48N6 employed by the S-300PM-1. The likely course of development could have seen the S-300PM-3 and S-1000 combined into a new system, the S-400, utilizing common system components and radars. This would explain the delays in fielding the S-400 as well as the current status of the 40N6 program. Radars would need to be suitably altered to support longer-range engagements, and the S-1000's weapon would need to be refined and complete development allowing it to function as part of the S-400 system.


In May of 2002 the producer of the S-300P, the Almaz design bureau, was merged with the Antey design bureau, creator of the S-300V tactical SAM system, to form the Almaz-Antey Air Defense Concern. This effectively consolidated all of the long-range SAM and ATBM experience into one organization. The new association resulted in a whole new concept of thinking regarding the boundaries between tactical and strategic air defense.


Despite the merger of Almaz and Antey, projects which had previously been active did continue development. These included the Antey-2500/S-300VM (SA-X-23) and the latest S-300P iteration, the S-300PM-3, which had by then morphed into the S-400. Future projects, however, would need to take full advantage of the consolidated expertise offered by the new corporation. Enter Samoderzhets.

Samoderzhets was a program begun shortly after the merger of Almaz and Antey aimed at identifying the characteristics and capabilities of new SAM systems operating on a national level. The research effort was conducted by the Second Central Scientific Research Institute of the Ministry of Defense. Deputy Defense Minister General of the Army Aleksey Moskovskiy, in a December 2004 interview for Vestnik Vozdushnogo Flota, described Samoderzhets as a project aimed at finding an "optimal solution" for the development of new air defense systems, systems capable of performing tasks for both the Army and PVO air defense, and operating within a national integrated air defense network framework:

"The name you mentioned, Samoderzhets, is not a system. It is a system project to look for an optimal solution."

General Moskovskiy goes on to state that an actual SAM system like the one outlined in the Samoderzhets project would most likely not be procured anytime soon as it would be "superfluous", as the S-400 was nearing service entry, but does state that modifying S-400 components to operate in such a manner (implying a national integrated network) was possible. The reason for integrating such systems would be to better coordinate air defense assets, and to better integrate the anti-missile capabilities of S-300V type systems (which are presently Russian Army assets, being tactical systems) into the national defense network. Ergo, the creation of an actual weapon system was not the goal of Samoderzhets, but rather the description and outlining of a new national framework to better control and integrate present and future systems to maximize their effectiveness, as well as the delineation and outlining of capabilities required by the individual systems serving in such a network. Official news regarding the Samoderzhets project virtually disappeared after 2004. There was a logical explanation for this, however: the research program was completed in 2004.

Samoderzhets was clearly never intended to result in the direct production of a new SAM system bearing the name, but it was a very important research endeavour, especially in the light of the new Almaz-Antey consortium. Future SAM systems will likely be designed around the system requirements and framework researched and outlined in the Samoderzhets project. In fact, early 2007 saw the mention of such a system. Sergey Ivanov, Russian Defense Minister, gave Almaz-Antey the task to develop a new air defense system capable for the first time of providing air defense, missile defense, and space defense. Such a project would seem to be revolutionary in concept, but seems perfectly logical as a next step given the results of the Samoderzhets project, and has been given until 2015 to produce hardware. 2015 may not seem that far off, especially given the delays associated with the S-400 system, but the new all-encompassing system has in fact been mentioned as early as 2005, and may have been in development before then.

It should be noted that the term "air defense system" does not necessarily imply one specific system such as the S-400, but could very well imply a series of systems, in this case the S-400 and S-500, integrated under a united national network, such as the kind outlined under the Samoderzhets project.

It is likely that the new system will build upon the S-400, using S-400 components for air defense. The missile defense component will likely be the aforementioned S-500 system, referred to in some sources as Vlastelin. The S-500 re-entered the public eye in August of 2007. On the 6th of August, Igor Ashurbeyli of Almaz-Antey was interviewed on Channel One TV in Russia regarding the first S-400 battery being activated near Elektrostal. Ashurbeyli stated that the next project for Almaz-Antey was the S-500, a mobile anti-missile system designed to function as part of the "unified system of Russia's air defense", a clear reference to Ivanov's statements in February and the concepts researched under Samoderzhets. Development of the S-500, according to some sources, had ended at one point in the past due to a lack of funding, but could easily have been restarted, saving Almaz-Antey from having to come up with a new anti-missile system from scratch. The S-500 is also believed to be related to the 45T6 anti-ballistic missile, which would certainly enable it to potentially perform exoatmospheric intercepts.

Confusion resulting from the appearance of the Samoderzhets name in press reporting did lead to the assumption that a new system was being developed, but as Samoderzhets was a project only, this is clearly not the case. There are a few reasons why certain assumptions about the potential new system were made, however, and they can be logically explained.

Samoderzhets is often claimed to be a SAM system integrating S-300P/S-400 and S-300V components. This is basically true, but not in a physical sense. Samoderzhets called for the integration of existing systems into a national level network, while designing new systems to operate in such a manner from the outset, regardless of whether or not they were employed by the Army or the Air Defense Troops. These systems would have, according to General Moskovskiy, included the S-300P and S-300V families. They would have been integrated, but not in a physical sense, as many have incorrectly assumed.

Samoderzhets was also described as combining the best aspects of previously developed SAM systems, and serving as the basis for a new standardized SAM system. This is partly correct; Samoderzhets would have integrated S-300V and S-300P/S-400 type systems, enabling their effectiveness to be maximized. Samoderzhets does also form the basis for new SAM development, as it outlined the framework under which new systems will operate, as well as their desired performance characteristics.

The main nail in the coffin of the Samoderzhets argument is the 2007 tasking to develop a new SAM system. Were Samoderzhets already a developed system by 2004, as some suggest, a new air and missile defense system would clearly not have been required. Furthermore, the Samoderzhets project was already three years past its completion date by 2007. As such the project initiated in 2007 would not have required a 2015 demonstration date; were Samoderzhets a true SAM system, completed in 2004, it would be ready for deployment far earlier than 2015. Lastly, the S-500 has been mentioned as the next SAM system to be developed for operational use, not Samoderzhets.

Some sources have claimed that Samoderzhets was proposed as an alternative to the S-400. In that light Samoderzhets may have been intended to result in a hybrid system, but the induction of the S-400 into front-line service would seem to be enough to put that theory to rest.

A final argument against the development of Samoderzhets as an actual SAM system is that it would represent both a waste of effort, given the S-500 development program for the anti-missile role, and a reduction in capability when compared to the S-400. In the anti-aircraft role the S-300VM's 9M83M missile has a range of 200 kilometers, a full 50 or 100 kilometers shy of the two range figures quoted for the 48N6DM employed by the S-400, even without considering the 400 kilometer range attained by the S-400's 40N6. Furthermore, Samoderzhets cannot be the new S-500 system, provided of course that both Ivanov and Ashurbeyli were referring to the same system. If, as many sources would have us believe, Samoderzhets represents a combination of S-300VM and S-400 systems, then the resultant system would fail to achieve the performance specified by Ivanov insofar as intercepting exoatmospheric targets is concerned.

Samoderzhets as a research endeavour is a far more logical explanation in light of the current evidence.


Samoderzhets was a very important project, one which will help to outline and govern the framework and interoperability of Russian air defense units for some time. But Samoderzhets was not a SAM system development effort, and no Samoderzhets system will be operating in Russia. The task of defending the skies and space over Russia will fall in the future to the S-400 and S-500 systems.


-New Russian SAM System Said Superior to Patriot, Has Multipurpose Capability (Moscow Vremya Novostey, 13 August 2004 p. 4)
-Russia approves Almaz-Antei merger (David Isby, Jane's Missiles & Rockets, 1 June 2002)
-Russian Defense Ministry to state performance specifications for new air defense system (Interfax, 4 October 2004)
-Russia to Develop New Air, Missile, Space Defense "Superweapon" (Vremya Novostey, 28 February 2007)
-Russian Channel One TV broadcast (6 August 2007)
-Russia looks to bolster air defence (James O'Halloran, Jane's Defence Weekly, 7 March 2007)
-Advantages of Upgraded Versus New Technology (Vestnik Vozhdushnogo Flota, 31 December 2004)
-Second Central Scientific Research Institute of MoD Receives Pennant (Krasnaya Zvezda, 22 November 2005)
-Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems


Viktor said...

Thanks for clearing thing up.

I was little confused by inflation of Russian SAM systems and its designation.

So finaly S-500 is 5th generation system that Ivanov has anounced to be developt by 2015 and will form basics of Russian balistic missile defence as Putin anounced.

Great... now I have found some German pdf file ( ) and there is said 40N6 missile will have ability to shoot down missiles as high as 185km..??
Is that true?
Some other Russian have said similat things and there has being some reports 40N6 has being tested at 50-60km heights.

Marcos said...

Sean your work on this blog is just awesome, you're a trully authority regarding this topic, and I could only thank you for the time you took in this endeavour. Please, you need to bring a newsletter option to comunicate new updates to your readers.


Sean O'Connor said...

Viktor: I doubt the 40N6 will have that kind of reach, but as it is designed to travel 400 kilometers through the atmosphere it may have the ability to reach that high, albeit at a reduced range. If I knew what the general configuration of the 40N6 was I'd be able to give you a much more definitive answer.

Marcos: there is a Latest Updates block that you can check to see what's new or updated, and there's always the forum. I'm not sure if has a feature like you describe, but I'll look into it.

Anonymous said...

What's the range of the S-300PS?

Sean O'Connor said...

Depends on the missile being used. With a command-guided 5V55K, it can range out to 47 km. With the 5V55R introduced with the PS, it can now use SAGG out to a range of 75 km. That increased to 90 km when the S-300PM introduced the 5V55RUD.

Anonymous said...

What do you know about S-300V in Russia? Where have they been deployed? ..and do they have the upgraded S-300VM in service?


Sean O'Connor said...

Russian S-300Vs have been identified at Smolensk (probably a training site, I only found one solitary TELAR), with operational garrisons at Birobidzhan and Olenegorsk. AMusingly enough, I recently located an S-300V battery at Gyumri in Armenia. I wonder if those are Armenian SAMs, or are Russian controlled. I know the Ukraine also has the S-300V, I've got photos of Ukrainian S-300V components, but I haven't seen any in imagery yet.

As far as I know the S-300VM/Antey-2500 is a developmental system that is not in service. With the new focus being on the S-500 system, it probably won't enter service with Russia.

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