14:26 GMT29 March 2020
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    July 8 marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of Russian Air Force's Anti-Aircraft Missile Troops.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On July 8, 1960, the General Staff of the Soviet Armed Forces issued a directive appointing a Commander of the Anti-Aircraft Missile Troops to the staff of the Air Defense Force Command.

    In 1998, the Air Defense Force and the Air Force were merged into a new Service of the Russian Armed Forces – the Air Force.

    The Anti-Aircraft Missile Troops, a fighting arm of the Air Force, mounts surface-to-air missile systems and air defense missile weapon systems, which form the mainstay of the firepower of the aerospace defense system.

    Its units defend control centers of top-level state and military administrative divisions, as well as troop formations, vital industrial and economic centers and other facilities, including enemy aerospace forces.

    Other services of the Russia's Armed Forces have their own air defense missile units.

    The first Soviet air defense missile units were established in 1952. In 1953, they became part of Moscow’s air defense system.

    In the mid-1950s, the Soviet Air Defense Force’s antiaircraft artillery were replaced with technically superior surface-to-air missile systems.

    Surface-to-air missile units evolved into an independent fighting arm by the late 1950s and became the main element of the Air Defense Force’s firepower in the mid-1960s.

    On May 1, 1960, air defense missile units were tested in action for the first time when an S-75 Dvina (NATO reporting name SA-2 Guideline) missile downed a Lockheed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft flown by US pilot Francis Gary Powers in the skies over Sverdlovsk, now Yekaterinburg.

    Surface-to-air missile systems proved highly effective in dozens of small conflicts worldwide.

    Today, the Air Force’s Anti-Aircraft Missile Troops is comprised of surface-to-air missile regiments subordinated to air force elements, an Aerospace Defense brigade, as well as units and agencies directly subordinated to the Air Force Commander.

    They are equipped with advanced S-300 (NATO reporting name SA-10 Grumble), S-400 (NATO reporting name SA-21 Growler) and Pantsir-S1 (NATO reporting name SA-22 Greyhound) air defense systems capable of destroying various air targets, including ballistic missiles.

    Pantsir-S1 Air Defense Missile/Gun System
    © Sputnik / Sergey Subbotin
    Pantsir-S1 Air Defense Missile/Gun System

    The Anti-Aircraft Missile Troops receive data from radio-radar troops, radar picket and homing aircraft and ships.

    The force’s command focuses on upgrading its elements and expanding their combat potential by adopting new S-400 medium- and long-range air defense systems, S-500 Samoderzhets (Autocrat) long-range missile systems, the more advanced Pantsir-S (SM) short-range missile systems, as well as by upgrading medium-range S-300PM missile systems.

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    Tags:
    anti-aircraft missiles, S-400, S-300, Pantsir missile system, Russia
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