S-350 Vityaz appeared at a Russian airbase, more than 60 km from the Ukrainian border. Moscow seems to be increasingly concerned about Kiev’s long-range strike capabilities.

A Video released by Russian media last weekend shows a Su-25 jet taking off from an airbase near the border for a mission in Ukraine. Notably in the video is an S-350 Vityaz system appearing near the runway, marking the first time this weapon has been deployed by Russia near the border with Ukraine. It is known that this is a new Russian medium-range air defense complex. According to military experts, the S-350 Vityaz system appearing in the video includes a 50N6A fire control radar, a 96L6-TsP warning radar and a 50P6 launcher vehicle.

The S-350 Vityaz is a Russian medium-range surface-to-air missile system developed by GSKB Almaz-Antey. Its purpose is to replace the S-300PS. The system design traces its roots from the joint South Korean-Russian KM-SAM project, and uses the same 9M96 missile as the S-400 missile system.

The S-350 was unveiled in 2013, and presented at that year’s MAKS airshow. Initial plans called for the system’s test phase to end in the autumn of 2013, and for the delivery of around 30 systems by 2020. However, the first deliveries of the S-350 only took place in 2019, and it only entered service in February 2020.

According to Almaz, Vityaz could replace older SAMs like the S-125 while adding multiple-target and anti-missile capabilities. According to information released in 2003, the system can be delivered in two configurations: a version optimised for protecting against high-precision weapons, able to simultaneous engage up to eight targets. There is a multi-role version, in the former configuration the battery consists of a radar and up to four launchers with 32 “small” missiles each, while in the latter the heart of the battery is a mobile command post linked to up to two radars and up to eight launchers.

The S-350E Vityaz 50R6 missile system is mounted on an 8×8 truck chassis, under the technical name of 50P6. It’s a dual missile system, whereby each of the standard containers can be replaced by a pack of four smaller and shorter weapons. The vertical launcher truck carried twelve tubular containers, in two lines of six.

The missile for the S-350E Vityaz 50R6 is the 9M96 guided missile which was originally designed for the S-400 system. This missile can be used against aerial and ballistic targets with a firing range from 1.5 to 120 km and to an altitude from 10 to 30,000 m. It features passive IR homing guidance. The 9M96 is a dual-role anti-missile and anti-aircraft missile.

The S-350 can also fire  9M100 guided missile to destroy aircraft, UAVs and cruise missiles. The 9M100 is a short-range, IR-guided missile that has been mentioned as both a Surface-to-air missile and an Air-to-air missile. It has a maximum firing range of 10 km. The S-350E Vityaz launcher missile canisters are mounted on the 8×8 truck chassis BAZ-6909. The power plant comprising a 470 hp engine. The vehicle can run at a maximum speed of 80 km/h with a maximum cruising range of 1,000 km. S-350 is considered to have 3 times stronger combat capability, with 12 missile control channels compared to 4 channels of the S-300, with a much higher level of informationization and automation than its predecessor. The system exceeded the performance of a medium-range air defense system, with a range of 5 to 400 km and an altitude of 10 m to subspace. Russian experts said that the official putting S-350 Vityaz into operation also means that Russia has completed the 3-stage defense system, sealing the defense hole of the old S-300 system.

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