The new S-500 air defence system will specifically be aimed at countering an attack from outer space, Yuri Muravkin, the deputy chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ anti-aircraft missile troops, told the Russian daily Krasnaya Zvezda.
“Realising the fact that nowadays and in the foreseeable future, the boundaries between air and space are being and will be erased as the aerial enemy gradually becomes an aerospace one, it is safe to say that the S-500 Prometey missile systems entering service is [already] in the pipeline”, Muravkin pointed out.
The remarks come after Sergei Chemezov, CEO of the state-run corporation Rostec, said in an interview with the Russian broadcaster Rossiya 1 in late June that they are “already starting to produce the S-500”.
“It’s a more modern complex. I don’t want to talk about it now, because it’s not in service yet. I think it will appear in the near future”, he added.
Chemezov also said that the S-500 systems are due to be put in service after their tests wrap up. He did not elaborate.
Earlier that month, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, for his part, touted “successful preliminary [S-500] tests” which he said “allowed the Russian Defence Ministry to make the decision to shorten the period of the start of serial supplies to the troops of this air defence missile system”.
“As a result, air defence missile regiments will start receiving S-500 systems already in the coming years", Borisov told reporters at the Army 2019 forum.
The S-500 Prometey, also known as 55R6M "Triumfator-M", is a Russian surface-to-air missile/anti-ballistic missile system designed to replace the S-400 air defences.
With the S-500’s specifications still officially classified, media reports claimed that the system is capable of destroying targets up to 600 kilometres (372 miles) away. It can reportedly also track and simultaneously strike up to 10 ballistic targets moving at speeds of up to 7 kilometres (4 miles) per second (about Mach 20).
In April, the Russian Foreign Ministry underlined in a statement that for Moscow, “the prevention of an arms race in space and its transformation into another sphere of armed confrontation remains a foreign policy priority”.
“We are ready to conduct an equal dialogue with all states in order to keep space free of weapons of any kind as a condition for ensuring international peace and security”, the statement pointed out.
In a separate development, President Donald Trump announced late last year that the US was creating a space force to catch up with China and Russia. Moscow, in turn, warned Washington against deploying conventional arms in space, saying that the international community had yet to adopt an agreement on the issue.