MOSCOW – The deputy commander of the Aerospace Defence Forces Branch (Air and Missile Defense) of the Russian Aerospace Forces, Colonel Yuri Muravkin, told the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda that the newly adopted S-350 Vityaz SAM (surface-to-air-missile) system, which is slated to replace the medium-to-long-range S-300PS system in the current Aerospace Defence Forces inventory will serve as a premier cruise missile killer, apart from its other advanced capabilities.
In an interview commemorating Aerospace Defence Forces (ADF) Day, Col Muravkin said that a single S-350 transporter erector launcher (TEL) is armed with three times as many missiles as a single S-300 or S-400 SAM (surface-to-air-missile) TEL and that the S-350 is capable of repelling simultaneous attacks from any direction, because unlike the latest American Patriot PAC-3, it has a 360° coverage. Col Muravkin also reiterated that the S-350’s capabilities make it a priority for equipping the Aerospace Defence Forces (ADF) units stationed in the border and coastal areas. With the S-350 Vityaz in those areas, Russia’s borders will be safe if any intruders make the grave mistake of thinking Russia’s vast landmass isn’t properly protected and covered by air defenses. Aerospace Defence Forces (ADF) regiments are to be retrained for the system in early 2020.
The deputy commander also noted that the Pantsir-S1 short-range air defense (SHORAD) system had been used to deal effectively with rockets fired by the BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher system, small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and quadcopters over the last couple of years. He added that the Pantsir-S1 is a crucial part of an integrated network of air defenses and that its short-range/point-defense capabilities are unmatched. While the S-400 deals with aerial targets at long range and S-350 at medium range, Pantsirs are there to protect both systems from low-key attacks, because it would be an overkill to have S-400 or S-350 wasting their missiles to shoot down drones or Grad rockets.
Col Muravkin added that the recently unveiled modernization of the Pantsirs, dubbed Pantsir-SM will counter prospective threats, including hypersonic missiles and UAV swarms, emphasizing that in addition to the new radar, much greater and better processing power, and much faster missiles, superior range and payload, the Pantsir-SM will also use artificial intelligence, which is another quantum leap over its predecessor.
The colonel also noted that due to the proliferation of precision-guided munitions (PGMs), the focus of the Pantsirs is shifting from area air defense to point air defense, while S-400 SAM systems will deal with aircraft before they even get the chance to launch PGMs.