ELEKTROSTAL (Moscow Region), August 6 (RIA Novosti) - Russia could start producing the S-400 Triumf (NATO codename SA-21 Growler) air defense complex for export from 2009, the head of the Almaz central design bureau said Monday.
"Within two years, our forces will test this system to ensure that there are no problems with it [on the market]... and then we will start producing them for export from 2009," Igor Ashurbeili said.
He said the first S-400 complexes will be deployed at an air defense missile regiment in the town of Elektrostal, about 50 km to the east of Moscow, adding that under the state arms program, several dozen regiments are to be equipped with new systems.
He said this may not be enough to cover Russia's entire territory, but was sufficient to protect the main cities and strategic installations.
The S-400 Triumf is a new air defense missile system developed by Almaz as an upgrade to the S-300 family.
It has been designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), or twice the range of the MIM-104 Patriot, and 2.5 times that of the S-300PMU-2.
In April, Colonel-General Yury Solovyov, commander of the Air Defense Forces Special Command (former Moscow Military District Air Defense Command), said the system could also be used for limited purposes in missile and space defense, but that it is not intended to destroy intercontinental ballistic missiles.
However, he said the system is capable of destroying stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with an effective range of up to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and a speed of up to 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) per second.
The Russian Air Defense Forces, which are part of the Air Force, currently deploy more than 30 regiments equipped with S-300 missile complexes, which will be gradually replaced with S-400 systems.