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    Developer Hints at Start Date for Mass Production of Russia’s S-500 Missile System

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    Limited production of the sophisticated new air defence system, most of whose characteristics remain under wraps, was said to have begun earlier this year, but the system has not yet concluded military testing.

    Russia plans to begin mass production of the S-500 air defence system in the second half of 2020, Sergei Chemezov, CEO of Russian defence industry giant Rostec, has announced.

    “I think mass production will begin in a year,” Chemezov said, speaking to Russia’s RBC newspaper in an interview published on Monday.

    Asked to comment on recent media speculation about the first country which may be allowed to purchase the system after Russia, Chemezov said it was far too early to even speculate about this idea.

    “This is something far off into the future; it’s unlikely that we will even discuss this idea over the next five years.” According to Chemezov, after mass production begins, “then, first of all, we will need to provide our own military with the system, and only then build the system for export.”

    In the meantime, the Rostec CEO explained that the S-400 is already enjoying “great demand.”

    Asked to comment on plans to produce elements of the S-400 jointly with Turkey, which began taking deliveries of Russian-built S-400 systems earlier this summer, Chemezov offered few details.

    “The S-400 is a very high-tech system, impossible to start producing from scratch, from a blank sheet of paper. But individual components can be produced; I will not specify,” he said.

    Military vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019
    © AP Photo / Turkish Defence Ministry
    Military vehicles and equipment, parts of the S-400 air defense systems, are unloaded from a Russian transport aircraft, at Murted military airport in Ankara, Turkey, Friday, July 12, 2019

    Trial Production of S-500s Already Underway

    Earlier this year, Chemezov told Russian television that S-500 developer Almaz Antey had recently begun manufacturing S-500s, clarifying that the systems have yet to be adopted by the military.

    Officially confirmed specifications of the S-500’s capabilities remain limited. However, in July, Col. Yuri Muravkin, deputy chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces’ anti-aircraft missile troops, told reporters that among the S-500’s competencies will be the ability to counter attacks from space, essentially hinting the system will serve as a highly mobile anti-ballistic missile system.

    A month earlier, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, whose portfolio includes defence and aerospace, boasted that “successful preliminary tests” on the S-500 among the military had been completed, and that “currently, stage-by-stage tests of various elements of the S-500 systems” were underway.

    Russian media have speculated that the S-500, also known as the 55R6M ‘Triumfator-M’, is capable of destroying targets at distances of up to 600 km away, simultaneously tracking and striking up to 10 ballistic targets moving at speeds of up to Mach 20. The system’s missiles are believed to have a maximum altitude threshold of 180-200 km, while its radar can detect launches 3,000-3,500 km away.

    Like the S-400, the Triumfator-M is expected to be able of intercepting and destroying everything from drones and manned aircraft to cruise missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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