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    Belarus is looking to buy the advanced S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) air defense system from Russia, the chairman of the Belarusian State Military-Industrial Committee said on Wednesday.

    MINSK, January 16 (RIA Novosti) - Belarus is looking to buy the advanced S-400 Triumf (SA-21 Growler) air defense system from Russia, the chairman of the Belarusian State Military-Industrial Committee said on Wednesday.

    The S-400 Triumf is a new air defense missile system developed by the Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family.

    Nikolai Azamatov said Russia could start exporting the S-400 in 2009 and that Almaz executives were ready for negotiations.

    According to some sources, Belarus submitted last year a formal request for two S-400 battalions to be made available by 2010.

    Almaz General Director Igor Ashurbeili previously said that production and the subsequent export of S-400s could start in 2009. Belarus currently has three S-300 complexes on combat duty.

    However, Russia said last August that it would not export S-400 missiles in the foreseeable future.

    "A decision to export such systems may only be made by the country's top leadership," a source in the military-industrial complex said, commenting on a recent statement by Belarus's defense minister on his country's intention to buy S-400 systems.

    Russia has deployed an S-400 battalion to guard the airspace around the capital, Moscow.

    The S-400 is designed to intercept and destroy airborne targets at a distance of up to 400 kilometers (250 miles), or twice the range of the U.S. MIM-104 Patriot, and 2.5 times that of the S-300PMU-2.

    The system is believed to have high capability to destroy 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.

    A regular S-400 battalion comprises at least eight launchers and 32 missiles and a mobile command post, according to various sources.

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