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    Russia will supply advanced S-400 air defense systems to Belarus under a recent agreement to create an integrated air defense network, a senior Air Force official said on Thursday.

    BALASHIKHA (Moscow Region), April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will supply advanced S-400 air defense systems to Belarus under a recent agreement to create an integrated air defense network, a senior Air Force official said on Thursday.

    "One of the provisions of the agreement is to upgrade the network. It must be equipped with the most advanced weaponry," first deputy Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Vadim Volkovitsky said.

    The S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2 1/2 times that of the S-300PMU-2.

    The system is also believed to be able to destroy stealth aircraft, cruise missiles and ballistic missiles, and is effective at ranges up to 3,500 kilometers (2,200 miles) and speeds up to 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) per second.

    The general did not specify the schedule for the deliveries, but said the ongoing talks on the issue would certainly bring positive results.

    "We are still discussing the dates for delivery of the S-400 systems, but I am certain that it will happen as part of our efforts to develop an integrated air defense network," Volkovitsky said.

    Moscow and Minsk signed an agreement in February on the joint protection of the Russia-Belarus Union State's airspace and the creation of an integrated regional air defense network.

    It will comprise five Air Force units, 10 anti-aircraft units, five technical service and support units and one electronic warfare unit, and will be placed under the command of a Russian or Belarusian Air Force or Air Defense Force senior commander.

    Belarus has several Russian-made S-300 air defense battalions on combat duty, and has long been negotiating the purchase of advanced S-400 systems from Russia, which should be available in 2010.

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