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Russia’s S-550 missile defense system to intercept warheads free of nuclear blast — expert

The latest S-550 system may serve as a follow-up of the A-135 ‘Amur’ - A-235 ‘Nudol’ strategic missile system in its mobile configuration, Dmitry Litovkin also notes

MOSCOW, November 16. /TASS/. Russia’s latest S-550 missile systems will serve as a mobile follow-up of the A-135 ‘Amur’ - A-235 ‘Nudol’ strategic missile defense system and will feature the kinetic energy interceptor principle to avoid a nuclear detonation when a warhead is struck, military expert Dmitry Litovkin told TASS on Tuesday.

"In the case of the Soviet ABM system, nuclear warheads were intended to be intercepted over the country’s Central Industrial Region by a counter nuclear blast. It was believed that both dummy targets and warheads would burn up in the emerging plasma. Therefore, the nuclear ash would all the same fall down on the country’s territory. The S-550, to follow the logic, will employ a different principle, a kinetic intercept," the expert explained.

This will make it possible to "physically destroy the warhead and prevent nuclear blasts," Litovkin said.

"In the case that a warhead is destroyed, its fragments will create a radioactive background, albeit to a lesser degree compared to a shell explosion," he explained.

The latest S-550 system may serve as a follow-up of the A-135 ‘Amur’ - A-235 ‘Nudol’ strategic missile system in its mobile configuration, the expert said.

"Nothing is known about the S-550 but I presume that it will become an extra element of the Prometei system. It was earlier announced that this system would be able to shoot down both ballistic nuclear warheads and low-orbit satellites. Judging by everything, the military has made a decision to divide these functions between the two systems (the multitask option is not always good for a combat system). Hence a conclusion that the S-550 will serve as a follow-up to the A-135 ‘Amur’ - A-235 ‘Nudol’ strategic missile defense system but in its mobile configuration," the expert said.

S-550 strategic missile system

A source close to Russia’s Defense Ministry earlier told TASS that the first S-550 strategic missile defense system would enter service with the Russian Army by 2025. He said that the hardware for the S-550 had already been built and related to the strategic ballistic missile defense system. The S-550 would use a mobile launcher with a hypersonic missile and no seaborne version of this weapon was envisaged, the source said.

Head of the Russian tech corporation Rostec Sergey Chemezov said at the Dubai Airshow 2021 that the S-550 would feature a longer-range target detection and missile interception capability.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said at the ministry’s conference call on November 9 that at defense industry meetings in Sochi in November Russian President Vladimir Putin had put emphasis on the importance of delivering S-350, S-500 and S-550 air and missile defense systems to the Russian troops.

The S-550 short-range missile interception weapon (the project of the mobile point defense missile system) was developed in the Soviet Union in 1981-1988 at the Almaz Central Design Bureau (currently, the Almaz Research and Production Association within the Almaz-Antey Group). The work on this system was terminated simultaneously with several projects of other Soviet design bureaus in the defense sphere as part of Soviet-American agreements. The equipment of the weapon’s fire system prototype was dismantled after 1992. The groundwork created in the process of the work on the project was destroyed after the disintegration of the USSR.