Saturday, June 16, 2007

Russian Strategic Defense - Part 3, The Future


Part 3 of this series focuses on future developments in the field of Russian Strategic Defense. The previous two entries are still available:

Part 1: The S-300P
Part 2: The ABM Network

THE S-400

The next generation SAM system being trialled by the Russian military is the Almaz-Antey S-400 Trieumf (Triumph; SA-X-21). The S-400 represents the latest iteration of the S-300P SAM system. The S-400 may have originally been designated S-300PM-3 due to the relationship with the older system. The 48N6DM used by the S-400 is a derivative of the S-300PM-2's 48N6D missile, and the S-400 will be able to employ the 9M96 series of SAMs as well. The largest changes to the S-400 when compared to the more dated S-300P variants are the inclusion of the new GRAVE STONE target engagement radar, and the inclusion of the new 40N6 400 kilometer range missile. GRAVE STONE is said to give the S-400 an anti-stealth capability. With the 40N6, 48N6DM, and 9M96, the S-400 will represent a very capable SAM system able to engage a variety of targets at various ranges.

The S-400 is due to enter operational service in the summer of 2007, with the first battery being employed near Elektrostal, outside of Moscow as part of the capital city's SAM defense network. Work on the 40N6 missile is still progressing, and this weapon is to be incorporated into the S-400 batteries as early as 2008. Until then, the S-400 will remain little more than yet another incremental upgrade to the S-300P family.


Later versions of the S-400 system will most likely be of the Samoderzhets family. With the merger of Almaz and Antey a few years ago, a whole wealth of SAM experience was merged, and Samoderzhets will be the first hardware example of that merger. Samoderzhets will be an S-400 system incorporating a towed TEL carrying two 9M82M (SA-X-23 GIANT) ATBMs. This will provide a far more robust ATBM capability for an S-400 battery, and potentially increase the export value of the system as well.


There are two other SAM systems under development for future use, the S-500 and the S-1000. The S-500 has been described as an S-300P follow-on system. The S-500 will likely not enter development for some time, and will represent the next generation of Russian SAM systems, perhaps finally breaking out of the S-300P family's mold. The S-1000 has been described as a follow-on to the S-300V system. The S-1000 may enter development earlier than the S-500, as there is no "S-400 equivalent" being pursued for the Russian S-300V systems. The Antey-2500 and Antey-2500D appear targeted at the export market only, and the upgraded S-300VM and S-300VM-1 appear to be non-starters for domestic use as well, although their technology and 9M82M/M1 missiles may filter down to the Samoderzhets system. In reality, the S-1000 may represent a THAAD-style system, or with the merger of Almaz and Antey the S-500 and S-1000 may be replaced by a single system useable for both roles, along the lines of Samdoerzhets.


Much less work appears to be underway on the ABM front. There have been rumors of a new ABM interceptor being developed, desugnated 45T6, but nothing more is known about this system. It would logically be a replacement for the Fakel 51T6 exoatmospheric interceptors, as these have recently been taken out of service.

Most of the ABM work underway is in the radar field. The aforementioned Voronezh-DM radar (see Part 2) is the latest BMEW LPAR design, and is currently under construction at two sites.

Beyond that, very little work appears to be underway regarding future ABM components. Sary Shagan is still an actively-used ABM test range, as evidenced by a recent 53T6 test launch, but there does not appear to be any significant R&D activity ongoing. That could be due to the existance of the test range outside Russian territory; ABM development may be moved to Kapustin Yar, Ashuluk, or another test range in the future to keep it "in house".


What is the future of the Russian strategic defense network? With an active, operational ABM system, and a robust SAM network, the future may not be as important as the present. That is to say that money may be better spent upgrading current systems and keeping them viable for the next 10-15 years, before beginning development on the next generation of strategic defense systems.


The following sources were consulted in the preparation of this report:

Globalsecurity's Russian BMD page
Pavel Podvig's blog
Russian language website on ABM systems
ABM and Space Defense
1999 US Senate Hearings on ABMs and Missile Defense

Jane's Strategic Weapons Systems (various years)
Jane's Land-based Air Defence (various years)
Fakel's Missiles (Moscow, 2003)

Various posters at Secret Projects, in particular Overscan, Meteorit, and Muxel, provided a good debate about the topic and provided the inspiration for this project. Thanks also to Trident for the Lake Balkhash thing!

All overhead imagery is provided courtesy of Google Earth.